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
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."