Asian-Americans have seen their ranks swell over the past decade, not only in coastal immigrant enclaves, but also in new places such as the southwestern states of Texas and Nevada, according to a report released on Wednesday by a coalition of Asian-American organizations.
The report shows the largest Asian-American populations have remained in California and New York, but traditionally smaller communities shot up between 2000 and last year, more than doubling in Nevada and growing 95 percent in Arizona.
Over the decade, Asian-Americans grew 72 percent to more than 1.1 million in Texas, giving the state more Asian-Americans than Hawaii, according to a report released by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, a coalition of four Asian-American advocacy groups.
Brookings Institution senior fellow William Frey said much of the growth was spurred by the draw of the suburbs during the middle of the decade and a rising number of South Asians, including many highly-educated workers who took jobs in technology hubs such as Austin, Texas, or followed relatives who had success here.
“My guess is this dispersion will continue to snowball,” Frey said. “Asians are still a tiny part of the US population ... This is the beginning of a trend, I guess, in much of the rest of the country.”
Asian-Americans are not the only group to make a push to the suburbs over the past decade. Census data show Hispanics moved beyond traditional enclaves to destinations in Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina during the housing boom, and African Americans left big cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New York.
The report, which was largely based on Census Bureau data, shows Asian-American numbers grew 46 percent over the decade. The figure includes people who identified as Asian along with other race categories on their census forms, said Dan Ichinose, director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center’s demographic research project.
The report also shows large increases in the number of South Asians. The Indian population grew by 68 percent to nearly 3.2 million and Indians now account for 18 percent of Asian-Americans, up from 16 percent a decade ago, the report shows.
The smaller Bangladeshi community more than doubled to 147,000 and Pakistanis doubled to 409,000, according to the report.
Deepa Iyer, executive director of the nonprofit South Asian Americans Leading Together, said the community’s growth stems from a mix of new immigrants here on work visas or seeking to reunite with family members in the US, as well as the children of immigrants who came here several decades ago.
What the report does not show is the impact of the economic downturn on Asian-Americans, since much of the census data spans the past decade or a significant portion of it, said Karin Wang, vice president of programs and communications for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
However, Wang, whose organization led the research for the report, does not see any dramatic change to the trend driving Asian-Americans to destinations beyond traditional hubs in California, New York and Hawaii. In many of these inland locations, Asian-Americans are getting involved in local politics, she said.
“Communities that aren’t used to having Asian-Americans in the mix of their neighbors are going to start seeing Asian-Americans aren’t just foreigners who live in Chinatowns in Los Angeles or New York, but are people who live around the corner,” Wang said.
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