HomeAsian AmericansWide Gap Among Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Western United States

Wide Gap Among Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Western United States

AAJC Community of Contrast

Asian Americans Advancing Justice released a report Wednesday on the wide disparity among Asian Americans in the 13 western United States.

In the western region comprised of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska, Asian Americans make up 11 percent of the population while Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander comprise 1 percent. This is a huge growth from 1980 when AAPIs made up barely more than one percent of the entire U.S. population. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of AAPIs in the Western region grew by 36 to 37 percent, the fastest rate of growth among all ethnic groups. Latinos experienced a 34 percent growth rate. 46 percent of the entire AAPI population in the U.S. lives in these 13 states.

The report highlights patterns of immigration among AAPIs along with growth in the business sector and voter registration. It also takes a closer look at the language, education, income, employment, housing and health.

“When we talk about the growing Asian American community in the United States, it’s crucial to recognize that Asian Americans are extremely diverse,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, AAJC. “While some are doing well, others are struggling. We must celebrate the communities’ successes, but also realize that the success of certain ethnic groups often mask the difficulties faced by others that fall under the Asian American and NHPI umbrella. We are able to showcase our contributions and needs by using disaggregated data in our demographic reports.”

In the Las Vegas Metro Area, the number of Asian American-owned small businesses doubled between 2002 and 2007. Asian Americans in Arizona, Oregon and Washington are more likely to own small businesses than any other racial group.

Immigration data shows large numbers are arriving from India, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, and South Korea. The West is also a new home to many refugees from Thailand, Burma, and Bhutan. While
half of NHPI are Native Hawaiian, many Pacific Islanders are immigrants born on islands such as Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa. Many AAPIs are undocumented.

17 – 33 percent of AAPIs are limited English proficient meaning bilingual services are essential to integrating them into the community.

Census data show that Asian American and NHPI adults are consistently less likely than Whites to hold a high school diploma or
GED. Southeast Asian and NHPI adults have lower rates of college degree attainment similar to other groups
underrepresented in higher education.

A majority of Asian American immigrants in all five major areas in the Western United States are naturalized and many are eligible to vote. In Nevada and Arizona, growth in the number of Asian American
registered voters and the number who cast ballots exceeded all other racial groups between 2004 and 2012.

“As our communities have grown, more Asian Americans and NHPI are becoming citizens, registering to vote and casting ballots,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “Elected officials need to pay attention and be responsive to the growing needs and concerns of two of the fastest growing constituencies in the West.”

Unemployment among Asian Americans is particularly an issue in Arizona, the Las Vegas Metro Area, Oregon, and the Seattle Metro Area. The number of NHPI unemployed doubled in Hawai‘i during the same time.

Asian Americans are less likely to own a home in four out of the five regions in the Western United States. Asian Americans in Arizona, Nevada, and Washington who took out home loans
between 2004 and 2008 were more likely than average to lose their homes to foreclosure.

Cancer and heart disease are the leading cause of death among Asian Americans in all five areas featured in the report.

You can read the entire report here:

Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in West


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