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An Eastern Influence in the West

Asian Americans are becoming a major force in California and western states
  • March 26 2012

Asian Americans were the fastest growing race group in the U.S. in the 2010 census, but their demographic influence is still mostly in the western part of the country, with a few exceptions.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 5 percent of the country’s population now identifies itself as Asian, an increase of more than 45 percent between 2000 and 2010. The growth rate itself was strong across the country—the Asian population grew by at least 30 percent in every state except Hawaii. And Hawaii’s lower growth rate was most likely because of the already high Asian population there (currently 57 percent of the state’s population).

This fast growth rate is changing the look of a number of states in the West. In California, for example, Asians now account for 15 percent of the overall population. In Nevada and Washington state, they are 9 percent of the population. The two other states with high Asian populations were New Jersey (9 percent) and New York (8 percent). The top five states that experienced the most Asian growth were Nevada (116 percent), Arizona (95 percent), North Carolina (85 percent), North Dakota (85 percent) and Georgia (83 percent).

Interestingly, much of this shift has to do with where specific Asian groups are now settling. Among detailed Asian groups with a population of 1 million or more, Japanese (71 percent) and Filipinos (66 percent) had the largest proportions living in the West. Large proportions of Chinese (49 percent), Vietnamese (49 percent) and Koreans (44 percent) lived in the West as well. A much lower proportion of Asian Indians (25 percent) lived in the West.

The Asian Indian population was the largest in 23 states, of which 13 were in the South, six in the Midwest and four in the Northeast. For every state in the West, either the Filipino population or the Chinese population was the largest detailed Asian group. The Filipino population was the largest detailed Asian group in 11 states, the Chinese population was the largest in nine states and the District of Columbia, the Vietnamese population was the largest in five states, and the Hmong population was the largest in two states.

Among the 20 metropolitan statistical areas with the largest Asian, Chinese was the largest detailed Asian group in six of the 20 metro areas (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Boston and Seattle). The Asian Indian population was also the largest detailed Asian group in six of the 20 metro areas (Chicago, Washington, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Detroit). Filipinos were the largest in five of the 20 metro areas (San Diego, Riverside, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Phoenix), followed by Japanese, Hmong and Vietnamese in one metro area each (Honolulu, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Houston, respectively).


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