New data from the US Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, estimates nearly 21.8 million Americans identify with an Asian ethnic group, accounting for 6.7% of the total US population. (Note: Data include those who select multiple racial or ethnic backgrounds.) Asian Americans remain one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, increasing by more than 2 million people since 2015.
[schema_chart chart="line-chart" data="190" series="Asian American Population" axis="Year" height="400"]
Chinese, Indian, and Filipino Americans make up the largest share of the Asian American population with 5 million, 4.3 million, and 4 million people respectively. These numbers equal 23%, 20%, and 18% of the total Asian American population, or 1.5% and 1.2% of the total US population.
[schema_chart chart="pie-chart" data="191" axis="Ethnic Group" series="Number of People"]
California is home to the most Asian Americans of any US state, with over 6.7 million in 2019 – more than 17% of the state’s total population of 39.3 million people. Both New York and Texas are also home to over 1 million Asian Americans. In Hawaii, people identifying with an Asian ethnic group account for 68% of the state’s population, including over 300,000 each identifying as Filipino or Japanese.
[schema_chart chart="regional-map" data="189" series="Number of People" axis="State" region="us_state"]
For a detailed breakdown of data by US state and ethnic group, see our Asian American population data visualizations.
Asian American communities have a growing impact on the national, state, and local levels, such as supporting the over 1,000 sister state, county, and city relationships between the United States and Indo-Pacific partners. From electing a record number of Indian Americans to Congress in 2020 to acting as a key demographic in the Georgia Senate run-off elections in January 2021, the various Asian voting blocs are increasingly important in US elections.
Strong Asian communities also support the large number of Asian students studying in the United States. Asian students, specifically Chinese, Indian, and South Korean students, make up over 70% of international students in the United States. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Chinese students in the United States during the 2019/2020 academic year increased to nearly 373,000 students.
Hmong Americans, many of whom immigrated to the United States as refugees in the 1970s following the Vietnam War, have had large impacts on their local communities. Although there are only an estimated 308,000 Hmong people in the United States, over two thirds of the population live in three states: California (101,000); Minnesota (82,000), and Wisconsin (58,000). The size and concentration of these communities have led to the election of Minnesota’s first Hmong American state representative and the recent addition of Hmong and other Southeast Asian experiences in the California school curriculum.
Caitlin Brophy is a Programs Coordinator at the East-West Center in Washington.