According to a new data recently released by the US Census Bureau, Asians and Asian Americans grew faster than any other race group in America in the last decade. The 2010 Census reported last year that 17.3 million people who identified themselves as Asian or Asian American resided in the United States (self-identifying as either Asian alone or Asian in combination with another race). This population grew by 46% from 2000 to 2010, more than 4 times faster than the US population as a whole. The latest report provides more detailed information on the make-up of this population and where they reside.
For this census, six separate response categories and a write-in box were offered for respondents to specify their ethnicity. Of these detailed groups, six had populations of over 1 million: Chinese (4 million), Filipino (3.4 million), Asian Indian (3.2 million), Vietnamese (1.7 million), Korean (1.7 million), and Japanese (1.3 million). While each of these populations increased from 2000 to 2010, the largest growth was seen among the Indian community (68%), followed by the Filipinos and Vietnamese (44% and 42% respectively).
The bulk of this growth has been fueled by immigration. About 9.2 million of Asians and Asian Americans are foreign born and almost a third of these arrived since the 2000 census. Statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security show that immigrants from Asia outpaced inflows from North America in 2002 and have maintained a widening lead ever since. In 2010, over 420,000 people born in Asian countries achieved permanent residency status, 40% of the total for that year.
While Asians and Asian Americans live in communities across America, three in four congregate in the ten states with the largest numbers of Asian residents, and more than half reside in the top five. Of these California ranks number one, followed by New York, Texas, New Jersey, and Hawaii. The Asian population grew by at least 30% in every state in the union, with the exception of Hawaii, which has a long standing Asian population and where 57% of its residents identify as Asian—the largest share of any state. Nevada saw the largest percent change in its Asian population, with an increase in 116%.
The census data shows that the different groups are distributed differently geographically. The Japanese and Japanese American population has the largest share residing in the West (71%), more Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans live in the South (32%), and Indians and Indian Americans predominantly live in the Northeast (39%). The Midwest, however, was home to the fewest number of Asians overall, and the lowest population of each group. At the state level, Indians make up the largest group of the Asian population in nearly half of all states (23 total—13 in the South, 6 in the Midwest, and 4 in the Northeast).
California, in addition having the largest Asian population overall, is also home to the largest numbers of each of the six largest groups. Chairman of the US Census Bureau Information Center Steering Committee and San Francisco native, David Lee, explained that because there is a “constant need for skilled workers” in the state’s high-tech IT, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries, and an abundance of high-quality universities, California is attractive to immigrants from Asia. These newcomers join multi-generation Asian American families in the state whose ancestors were drawn by the opportunities provided by the gold rush, the building of the railroads, and the fertile soil as far back as the 1800s.
Additional information on Asians and Asian Americans from the 2010 census will be released over the course of the decade.