Report Illustrates Diversity among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders


Washington, DC: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are often perceived as a financially successful and well-educated community. Yet a new national report indicates that a large number of AAPIs are faced with poverty, overcrowded housing, and below average high school graduation rates. A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States details one of the fastest growing populations in the United States and examines both the contributions and the needs of this diverse community.
The report is a publication of the Asian American Justice Center and its affiliates, including the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, who was the principal researcher of the report. (Click here for a copy of the report).
Between 1990 and 2000, the Asian American population grew by as much as 72%, with the Pacific Islander population growing by as much as 140%. The rapid growth is occurring both in states with large, established AAPI populations, like New York, California and Hawai'i, as well as in states with emerging AAPI communities. Nevada, for example, is now home to the nation's fastest growing AAPI population. In Las Vegas alone, Asian Americans grew as much as 272% and Pacific Islanders grew as much as 632% from 1990 to 2000.
Other findings in the report include:
• While some AAPIs have achieved the American dream, other still struggle to reach it. While four of the 20 Asian American ethnic groups have per capita incomes greater than non-Hispanic Whites, the poverty rate of 12 AAPI ethnic groups - mostly Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander - surpasses the national average.
• Huge disparities exist with regards to educational attainment. While 43% of Asian American adults age 25 years and older have graduated college (compare to 27% of non-Hispanic Whites), nearly half or more of Hmong, Cambodian and Laotian adults have not completed high school.
• Asian American and Pacific Islanders have above average rates of living in overcrowded housing. One fifth or more of AAPIs live in overcrowded housing, compared to 6% of the US population. Forty percent of Cambodians, Bangladeshi and Tongans live in overcrowded housing.
• On the other hand, AAPI buying power has tripled over a 14-year period increasing from $118 billion in 1990 to $363 billion in 2004, contributing to the economic growth in the United States.
"The Asian American and Pacific Islander population features a rich diversity, including numerous ethnic groups, cultures, and languages," said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director, Asian American Justice Center. "Not only does A Community of Contrasts provide a national overview of AAPIs, but it also provides a unique perspective on the new emerging AAPI communities. Corporations, policymakers, foundations, and governments should take notice of the significant contributions of these communities and needs that are currently unrecognized and unaddressed."


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