Census on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

The U.S. Census Bureau released census information on Asian Americans in celebration of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month: May 1-31. Below are selected census data on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans:

(1) Population distribution

On February 1, 1998, there were an estimated 10.2 million Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, comprising 3.8 percent of the total population. Since July 1, 1990, the Asian and Pacific Islander population has increased 35 percent, while the non-Hispanic White population grew 3 percent.

In 1996, 55.4 percent of the nation's Asians and Pacific Islanders lived in the West and 94.2 percent resided in metro areas (49.5 percent in suburbs, 44.7 percent in central cities).

Ten states had 200,000 or more Asian and Pacific Islander residents as of July 1, 1996: California (3.7 million, or nearly 40 percent of the U.S. total), New York (920,000), Hawaii (750,000), Texas (500,000), New Jersey (400,000), Illinois (370,000), Washington (300,000), Florida (250,000), Virginia (220,000) and Massachusetts (200,000).

The two states where Asians and Pacific Islanders made up the greatest percentage of the July 1, 1996, population were Hawaii (63 percent) and California (12 percent

(2) Education

In 1997, 85 percent of the nation's Asians and Pacific Islanders age 25 and over had at least a high school diploma, while 42 percent had earned at least a bachelor's degree. The corresponding proportions for Whites were 83 percent and 25 percent.

Nearly one-seventh of the 32,000 doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in 1995 were conferred on non-Hispanic Asians and Pacific Islanders. This racial group also accounted for roughly one-third of the doctorates awarded in engineering and one-quarter of those conferred in the physical sciences (astronomy, physics and chemistry) and mathematics. (The universe does not include students with temporary visas.)

(3) Income and poverty

In 1996, Asians and Pacific Islanders had the highest median household income ($43,276) among all race and Hispanic origin groups in the United States. After adjusting for inflation, their income remained statistically unchanged from 1995 levels. Although Asians and Pacific Islanders as a group had the highest median household income in 1996, their income per household member was not statistically different from that of White households.

The poverty rate for Asians and Pacific Islanders in 1996 was 14.5 percent, also statistically unchanged from 1995. The rate was lower for non-Hispanic Whites (8.6 percent) but higher for African Americans (28.4 percent) and Hispanics (29.4 percent). (The latter two rates are not statistically different from one another.)

(4) Jobs

In 1996, 35 percent of the nation's employed Asian and Pacific Islander men and 31 percent of women age 16 and over worked in managerial and professional specialty jobs (e.g., engineers, dentists, teachers, lawyers and reporters). For men, this was the most common occupational category while for women, it was second to technical, sales and administrative support jobs, where 38 percent worked.

(5) Families

In 1997, married couples with children comprised 34 percent of the nation's Asian and Pacific Islander households. Married couples without children constituted 24 percent while persons living alone made up 19 percent. The rest of the households consisted of people in other types of living arrangements.

(6) Language spoken

Between 1980 and 1995, the number of registrations in Japanese courses at U.S. colleges and universities quadrupled, from 11,500 to 44,700, while the number in Chinese courses more than doubled, from 11,400 to 26,500. Consequently, Japanese is now the fourth most popular foreign language course in U.S. colleges; Chinese is sixth.

(7) Businesses

The number of businesses in the United States owned by Asians and Pacific Islanders increased 56 percent between 1987 and 1992, from 386,291 to 603,426. Receipts generated by these businesses increased 163 percent, from $36.5 billion to $96.0 billion.

Among Asian and Pacific Islander groups, persons of Chinese origin owned the most U.S. firms in 1992 (153,096)

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