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Asian Americans Are a Fast-Growing, Diverse Group


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, reacts as comedian Hasan Minhaj speaks during the Asian-Pacific Heritage reception at Gracie Mansion in New York on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Asian American population is growing faster than any other major ethnic or racial group.

From 2010 to 2016, 42 percent of the 8.1 million people who came to the United States from a foreign country were from Asia. Thirty-eight percent came from Latin America, 8.6 percent from Europe, and 8 percent from Africa.

This information comes from a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

Asian Americans lead in income and education

For 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau said Asian Americans had the highest median annual income of all ethnic and racial groups. The median income for Asians was $81,431, about the same as 2015.

That compared to a median income of $59,039 for all Americans.

Pew said the U.S. Asian population is also better educated.

About half of Asians 25 and older have a college degree. That compares to 30 percent among all Americans over age 25, Pew said.

Along with education, the Pew study also noted a high level of English language skill among Asians.

Seven of 10 Asians in the United States, ages 5 and up, speak English proficiently, the study said. U.S.-born Asian Americans are more likely to speak English well than foreign-born Asians.

Stephanie Wong is chapter and membership associate with OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates.

She said the information from the Census Bureau is somewhat misleading because it puts Asian Americans from many different backgrounds into one group.

“The Asian American population is very diverse,” Wong said. She suspects some Asian Americans do not receive public or private assistance because of the mistaken belief all Asian Americans are doing well economically.

To point out the diverse economic backgrounds of Asian Americans, the Pew Research Center looked at income levels for people from different Asian countries.

In 2015, it said that Indian American households had a median income of $100,000, the highest among Asian Americans. For Filipino-Americans, the median household income was $80,000.

But the Pew report said eight of the 19 Asian groups it examined had higher poverty rates than the U.S. average. They included the Hmong, Bhutanese and Burmese.

Twenty-one million and growing

The Asian American population now stands just short of 21 million people, the Census Bureau reported. That represents just over 6 percent of the American population.

In a recent report, the Pew Research Center said Asian Americans likely will become the largest immigrant group in the United States.

In 50 years, Asians should make up 38 percent of all U.S. immigrants, overtaking the current largest immigrant group, Hispanics, the Pew Center said.

Poll watcher Eddie Hu of the citizen group Asian Americans Advancing Justice keeps track of voting in November, 2016, at a polling station in a heavily Asian-community near Los Angeles.
Poll watcher Eddie Hu of the citizen group Asian Americans Advancing Justice keeps track of voting in November, 2016, at a polling station in a heavily Asian-community near Los Angeles.

William Frey researches urban populations, immigration and other issues for the Brookings Institution, a research center based in Washington D.C. He said immigration policies that support educated immigrants are likely to help Asians.

But he said changes in American immigration policy could affect immigration from Asia, as well as other parts of the world.

President Donald Trump and some Republicans in Congress have proposed a bill calling on America to reduce the number of legal immigrants admitted into the U.S. each year. They also want to give a preference to well-educated immigrants and/or those with job offers.

Asian Americans come from 20 nations

Asian American people come from more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Each has its own history, language and culture.

Some of the biggest growth came from Bhutan, Nepal and Burma, the Pew center reported.

But China continues to be the largest country of origin for Asian Americans. Chinese Americans numbered 4.9 million in 2015, or 24 percent of Asian Americans, Pew reported.

Pew said that India is number two, with nearly 4 million people listing it as their country of origin. The other leading countries of origin for Asian Americans are the Philippines, 3.9 million; Vietnam, nearly 2 million; Korea, 1.8 million; Japan, 1.4 million; and Pakistan, 519,000.

I’m Bruce Alpert.

And I'm Jill Robbins.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

census - n. the official process of counting the number of people in a country, city, or town and collecting information about them

median annual income - n. the middle value from a series of yearly earnings from smallest to largest over one year

misleading - adj. not necessarily true

diverse -- adj. including many different groups

preference - n. having an advantage

origin - n. where someone came from

proficiently adv. good at doing something

chapter - n. ​the people in a certain area who make up one section of a large organization​

associate - n.​ a member of a group or organization who is at a level that is below the highest level​

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