Immigration Spurs Fast Growth of Asian Population

Asian Americans are now the fastest-growing population in the United States, passing Latinos as the largest group of new immigrants.

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing minority in the United States, recently passing Latinos as the largest group of new immigrants.

The Pew Research Center survey, released Tuesday, also found that Asian Americans are more satisfied than the public in general with their lives, finances, and the direction of the country.

The results came from a nationally representative sample of 3,511 Asian Americans contacted by phone from Jan. 3 to March 27, 2012 in English and seven Asian languages. 

The Asian American population grew to a record 18.2 million in 2011.  That represents 5.8 percent of the total U.S. population, up from less than 1 percent in 1965, according to the survey.  In comparison, non-Hispanic whites make up 197.5 million of the population, or 63.3 percent, and non-Hispanic blacks total 38.3 million, or 12.3 percent.

, Summit's Asian population represented the largest percentage increase in the city and grew by 31 percent, or 427 people. For every 100 Summit residents 6.4 are Asian. The total Asian population in Summit is 1,368 people.

In the national survey, 82 percent said they are satisfied with their lives overall, compared to 75 percent of Americans in general.  Most interviewed said they were content with their personal finances (51 percent vs. 35 percent) and the general direction of the country (43 percent vs. 21 percent).

The education level of recent arrivals from Asia also stands out.  Around 61 percent of adults ages 25 to 64 who immigrated to the United States in recent years have at least a bachelor’s degree, double the figure among non-Asian arrivals, according to the survey.  

This “almost surely makes the recent Asian arrivals the most highly educated cohort of immigrants in U.S. history,” researchers said.

Although the economy has been hard hit in recent years, Asian Americans continue to thrive.  The median household income for all Asian Americans in 2010 was $68,000, compared to $50,000 for adults of all races and ethnicities, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.   Asian Americans also have a lower unemployment rate than members of the general public.

Although Asians are distinctive as a whole in several categories when compared to Americans in general, the various groups under the category come from dozens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asian, and the Indian subcontinent.  Each subgroup has its own defining history, languages, and culture. 

The history of Asian Americans immigrating to the United States goes back to at least the mid 1800s, but the growth was slowed by discriminatory practices.  Foreign-born Asian Americans were not allowed to become American citizens until 60 years ago, according to the study.  Immigration from Asia also was severely restricted due to state and national laws limiting immigration and naturalization.

Some states barred non-citizen Asians from owning land.  Marriage between Asians and whites was forbidden and some non-citizens in the group were forced to pay extra taxes.

To read the full report, see the attached pdf.

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