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Demographic Report on Asian American, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in California

The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and Asian Law Caucus (ALC) have released a new report on California’s fastest growing racial groups: A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in California, 2013. The report presents the latest data on Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) population, population growth, and key social and economic characteristics; such as income, poverty, education, and language. Key findings include:

Cover of A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in California, 2013Demographics: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California’s Asian American population grew 34% between 2000 and 2010, while its NHPI population grew 29%. In comparison, the state’s Latino population grew 28%, while its White population decreased 5% over the same decade. There are nearly 5.6 million Asian Americans and 290,000 NHPI living in California. Among Asian American ethnic groups, South Asians were the fastest growing, with Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Indian American populations growing at high rates. Filipino Americans are the largest Asian American ethnic group in California, numbering almost 1.5 million. They are followed in size by Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, and Japanese Americans. Among NHPI groups, the state’s Fijian American population grew significantly over the decade. Native Hawaiians are the largest NHPI ethnic group with almost 75,000 living in California; Samoan and Guamanian or Chamorro Americans follow in number. Though most Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) in California live in the Bay Area and Southern California, metropolitan areas in the Central Valley saw large increases in the number of AANHPI between 2000 and 2010. AANHPI in Sacramento and Fresno Counties experienced some of the highest rates of growth, outpacing statewide growth over the past decade.

Health: Statewide, Asian Americans are the only racial group for whom cancer is the leading cause of death; for other groups, heart disease is the leading cause of death. Diabetes disproportionately impacts NHPI communities and is the third leading cause of death among Guamanian or Chamorro and Samoan Americans statewide. Alzheimer’s disease is the fastest growing cause of death for AANHPI. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of suicide deaths statewide increased 36% for Asian Americans and doubled for NHPI. Despite these challenges, about 14% of Asian Americans and 15% of NHPI in California do not have health insurance, rates higher than Whites. Among Asian American groups, more Korean (27%), Thai (22%), and Cambodian Americans (21%) lack health insurance. One-quarter of Tongan Americans live without health insurance, the highest of the NHPI groups.

Language: There are nearly 3.6 million Californians who speak an Asian or Pacific Island language. Statewide, the top five Asian languages spoken at home are Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese; Samoan is the most commonly spoken Pacific Island language. Among Asian Americans, Hmong, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and Bangladeshi Americans are most likely to speak a language other than English at home (91%, 91%, 87%, 87%, and 86%, respectively). Among NHPI, over 83% of Fijian Americans and 68% of Tongan Americans speak a language other than English at home. Nearly 1.7 million Asian Americans statewide are limited English proficient (LEP), an 11% increase since 2000. Additionally, many Asian Americans live in linguistically isolated households where everyone over the age of 14 is LEP; over 23% of Asian American households in California are linguistically isolated. Korean American households have the highest rate of linguistic isolation (40%); Vietnamese (37%), Burmese (36%), Mongolian (33%), Taiwanese (33%), and Nepalese American (31%) households also have high rates of linguistic isolation.

A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in California, 2013 provides analysis for California as a whole, and specific analysis for the Sacramento metro area, the Bay area, the Fresno metro area, and Southern California. The full report is available on the APALC website. It is available to the public, but users must register to download a copy.

Community of Contrasts is a series of reports from APALC that include population counts, growth, and key socioeconomic characteristics such as age, immigration, language, education, income, employment, housing, and health for AANHPI communities as a whole, as well as specific ethnic groups. Previous reports include A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the Midwest (2012) and A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States (2011).

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