New Report on Asian Americans in the Northeast Highlights Both Poverty and Political Power
NEW YORK – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a national affiliation of Asian American civil rights organizations, in partnership with the Asian American Federation, will release its latest demographic profile of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) populations in the U.S. A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the Northeast, 2013, will break the myth of AANHPIs as “model minorities” by underlining the enormous growth and diversity within these communities, paired with heightened civic awareness.
The report examines Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Metropolitan New York is home to the nation’s second-largest Asian American population and fifth-largest Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population. Both the Asian American and NHPI populations in metropolitan New York experienced tremendous growth between 2000 and 2010. With an increase of 38%, the Asian American population is the fastest-growing racial group, and, with 26% growth, the NHPI population is not far behind.
Asian Americans in metropolitan New York have been disproportionately impacted by the financial crisis that began in 2007. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of unemployed Asian Americans increased significantly in New York (48%) and New Jersey (80%). During the same time period, the number of Asian Americans living below the poverty line increased 32%, higher than all other racial groups except Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
“Our communities are growing and making real contributions to New York’s economy, but many also need help,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. “These figures deepen the urgency of our public policy concerns.”
South Asian groups are among the most poor: 27% of Bangladeshi Americans live below the poverty line in metropolitan New York. Pakistani and Sri Lankan Americans also have some of the highest rates of poverty (19%).
The significant growth in AANHPI populations also gives these communities a stronger political voice. Between the 2004 and 2012 elections, the growth in the number of Asian Americans who were eligible to vote, registered to vote, and cast ballots was higher than any other group in both New York and New Jersey. In New York state, six senate districts and thirteen assembly districts have a voting age population that is at least 20% Asian American. Senate District 16 and Assembly Districts 25 and 40, all located in Queens, now have a majority Asian American voting age population.
“Asian American candidates are seeking and winning elected office, and our communities will continue to play an ever-increasing role in electing new leaders,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Advancing Justice-AAJC. “But this is only the tip of the iceberg. With greater investment in naturalization, voter registration, and voter turnout – as well as attention to language access and voter protection laws – Asian Americans and NHPI communities will grow as a key electorate.”
Based on the report’s findings, Advancing Justice recommends that service providers and policy makers work to address the changing needs of growing AANHPI communities, particularly for limited-English-proficient immigrants who are struggling in this challenging economy.
“Contrary to the myth of Asian Americans and NHPI as ‘model minorities,’ the data we compiled in this report show tremendous social and economic diversity in our communities here in New York,” said Cao O, executive director of the Asian American Federation. “Some have achieved success, but there are many who face considerable challenges. Improving access to services is critical, particularly among those who have limited English proficiency or are struggling in this tough economy.”