Stark Contrasts Found Among Asian Americans

Teresa Watanabe and Nancy Wride, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 16

Indian Americans have surged forward as the most successful Asian minority in the United States, reporting top levels of income, education, professional job status and English-language ability, even though three-fourths were foreign-born, according to U.S. census data released Wednesday.

The striking success of Asian Americans who trace their heritage to India contrasted with data showing struggles among Cambodian, Laotian and Hmong immigrants. Those three groups reported continued significant poverty rates, low job skills and limited English-language ability since their flight from war and political turmoil.

The report, “We the People: Asians in the United States,” was based on 2000 census data and underscored the enormous socioeconomic diversity among the nation’s 10 million Asian Americans, more than one third of whom live in California, the state with their largest population.

Asian Americans increased from 6.9 million, or 2.8% of the U.S. population, in 1990 to 10.2 million, or 3.6%, in 2000. Including mixed-race Asian Americans, counted by the census for the first time in 2000, the population was 11.9 million, or 4.2%.

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Median family income, for instance, ranged from $70,849 for Japanese and $70,708 for Asian Indians to about half that for Cambodians and Hmong. Indian men showed the highest full-time earnings, $51,900, about double the figure for Hmong men.

About 64% of Asian Indians held a bachelor’s degree or more, the highest rate, compared with 7.7% for Laotians and 7.5% for Hmong, the lowest. More than three-fourths of Indians and Filipinos spoke fluent English, twice the rate for Vietnamese.

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