In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration. Per a 1997 Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Thus, this Facts for Features contains a section for each.
During the observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the cultural traditions, ancestry, native languages and unique experiences represented among more than 47 ethnic groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands (speaking more than 100 languages) who live in the United States. We also recognize millions of AAPIs whose love of family, hard work and community has helped unite us as a people and sustain us as a Nation.
AAPIs represent one of the fastest-growing and most diverse populations in the United States. According to the 2003 President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Report to the President and the Nation, AAPIs comprise many populations that make critically important contributions to American life. Their communities often are described as a “model minority” that generally enjoys superior health status. In reality, however, the AAPI population experiences genuine health disparities in cancer screening, diabetes and infectious diseases, among others. In 2005, AAPIs aged 40 years and older were 1.2 times more likely to have Hepatitis B (3.5 per 100,000) than non-Hispanic whites (2.9).
The estimated number of U.S. residents of Asian descent, according to the 2010 Census. This group comprised 5.6 percent of the total population. This count includes those who said they were both Asian alone (14.7 million) and Asian in combination with one or more additional races (2.6 million). Source: 2010 Census Brief — Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin <http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf>
The Asian alone or in combination population in California; the state had the largest Asian population in the 2010 Census, followed by New York (1.6 million). In Hawaii, Asians made up the highest proportion of the total population (57 percent). Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File, Custom Table 3, <http://2010.census.gov/news/press-kits/redistricting.html>
Percentage growth of the Asian alone or in combination population between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, which was more than any other major race group. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File, Custom Table 3, <http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb11-cn123.html>
Number of Asians of Chinese descent in the U.S. in 2009. Chinese-Americans were the largest Asian group, followed by Filipinos (3.2 million), Asian Indians (2.8 million), Vietnamese (1.7 million), Koreans (1.6 million) and Japanese (1.3 million). These estimates represent the number of people who reported a specific Asian group alone, and people who reported that Asian group in combination with one or more other Asian groups or races. Source: 2009 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov>
Income, Poverty and Health Insurance
Median household income for single-race Asians in 2009. Source: 2009 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov>
Median household income differed greatly by Asian group. For Asian Indians, for example, the median income in 2009 was $90,429; for Bangladeshi, it was $46,657. (These figures represent the single-race population.) Source: 2009 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov>
The poverty rate for single-race Asians in 2009, not statistically different from the 2008 poverty rate. Between 2008 and 2009, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic whites (from 8.6 percent to 9.4 percent), for blacks (from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent) and for Hispanics (from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent). Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb10-144.html>
Percentage of single-race Asians without health insurance coverage in 2009, not statistically different from 2008. Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009 <http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb10-144.html>
The percentage of single-race Asians 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. This compared with 28 percent for all Americans 25 and older. Source: 2009 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov>
The percentage of single-race Asians 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma. This is not statistically different from the percentage for the total population or the percentage of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone, 85 and 86 percent respectively. Source: 2009 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov>
The percentage of single-race Asians 25 and older who had a graduate (e.g., master’s or doctorate) or professional degree. This compared with 10 percent for all Americans 25 and older. Source: 2009 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov>
Source for the statements referenced in this section, unless otherwise indicated: 2007 Survey of Business Owners via American FactFinder <http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en>
Number of businesses owned by Asian-Americans in 2007, an increase of 40.4 percent from 2002.
Total receipts of businesses owned by Asian-Americans, up 55.4 percent from 2002.
In 2007, 44.7 percent of Asian-owned businesses were in repair and maintenance; personal and laundry services; professional, scientific and technical services; and retail trade.
Asian Americans represent the extremes of both socioeconomic and health indices:
- Asian American women experience the greatest life expectancy (85.8 years) of any other ethnic group in the U.S.
- Asian Americans have the highest proportion of college graduates of any racial or ethnic group (50.2% of Asian Americans have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 28% of the total population).
- Asian Americans contend with numerous factors which may threaten their health, including infrequent medical visits due to the fear of deportation, language/cultural barriers, and the lack of health insurance.
- Asian Americans are at a greater risk for: cancer, heart disease, stroke, unintentional injuries (accidents), and diabetes.
- Asian Americans also have a high prevalence and risk factors for: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, smoking, tuberculosis, and liver disease.
- In 2008, Asian American women (ages 18+) were least likely to have had a Pap test (65.1%) compared with other racial/ethnic women (non-Hispanic white: 74.9%, non-Hispanic black: 80.0%, Hispanic/Latino: 75.4%, American Indian/Alaska Native: 69.4%).
- Minority Health and Health Equity at CDC
- CDC Feature: National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – May 19th
- Health Disparities in HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, & TB
- Health, United States, 2010 – Asian or Pacific Islander Population
- FastStats – Health of Asian or Pacific Islander Population
- Sociodemographic Maps – Asian & Pacific Islander
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), Minority Populations page
- White House Presidential Proclamation
- US Census Bureau Facts for Features: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, May 2011
- AIDS.GOV – Asian Americans and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ~ May 19
- White House Executive Order 13515 – Increasing Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Federal Programs