A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States 2011 compiles the latest data on Asian Americans at the national level. Produced by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, the report is a valuable resource to community organizations, elected and appointed officials, government agencies, foundations, corporations, and others looking to better understand and serve one of this country’s fastest growing and most diverse racial groups. Below is a summary of key findings in the report.
Note: the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice will release a separate national report in 2012 dedicated to Pacific Islanders.
Asian Americans are the country’s fastest growing racial group.
The Asian American population in the United States grew 46% between 2000 and 2010, faster than any other racial group nationwide.
Asian Americans make significant contributions to the economy through entrepreneurial activity, job creation, and consumer spending.
Asian American entrepreneurs own over 1.5 million businesses, employing about 3 million people with an annual payroll of nearly $80 billion. Asian American firms were more likely than other firms to create jobs, and between 2000 and 2009, the buying power of Asian American communities increased 89%, from $269 billion to $509 billion.
Asian Americans are becoming citizens, registering to vote, and casting ballots
Approximately 68% of Asian Americans old enough to vote are U.S. citizens, but of those eligible to register to vote, 55% have done so, and the rate of Asian American voter turnout still lags behind that of non-Hispanic Whites. Greater naturalization, voter registration, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts are needed if Asian Americans are to realize their untapped political potential.
Immigration policies disproportionately impact Asian Americans.
Proportionately, Asian Americans are more likely than any other racial group to be foreign-born. Approximately 60% of Asian Americans were born outside the United States.
Language barriers continue to limit opportunities for millions of Asian Americans.
Roughly one out of every three Asian Americans are limited-English proficient (LEP). Providing assistance in Asian languages and greater opportunities to learn English promotes better access to good jobs, citizenship, voting, healthcare, social services, and the judicial system for millions of Asian Americans.
Asian American educational attainment varies widely among ethnic groups.
Disaggregated data show that the low educational attainment of Cambodians, Laotian, Hmong, and Vietnamese Americans limit employment opportunities for many in Southeast Asian communities. Job training programs and vocational English language instruction should be targeted to Asian Americans with lower levels of educational attainment in an effort to increase access to good jobs.
Some Asian Americans struggle economically.
Hmong Americans have the lowest per capita income of any racial or ethnic group nationwide, while Hmong, Bangladeshi, and Cambodian Americans have poverty rates that approach those of African Americans and Latinos. Federal, state, and local governments should establish or expand culturally and linguistically accessible public assistance programs to meet these needs.
Unemployment has impacted Southeast Asian American communities.
Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian Americans have unemployment rates higher than the national average. Job training, adult English language learning, unemployment benefits, and other safety net programs should be made accessible to these workers as they struggle to get back on their feet.
Asian Americans continue to face housing concerns.
59% of Asian Americans own homes nationwide, yet homeownership rates lags significantly behind that of non-Hispanic Whites, with a majority of Bangladeshi, Hmong, and Korean Americans renting rather than owning their own homes. The problem is compounded by large numbers of Asian Americans living in overcrowded housing.
Access to affordable healthcare coverage is critical for Asian Americans.
Asian Americans are twice as likely than both non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans to have seen a doctor in the past five years, despite being more likely to develop hepatitis, stomach and liver cancer, and other diseases. Asian Americans are also more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be uninsured. The federal government should work with insurance companies and employers to expand access to affordable healthcare coverage for all U.S. residents, including immigrants.
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