Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

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A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County, 2013

This report highlights the significant social and economic diversity among Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) in Los Angeles County.  Using the latest data, the report combats “model minority” stereotypes and helps policy makers to better understand and serve Asian American and NHPI communities.

Asian American and NHPI communities are growing dramatically and contributing to increased diversity countywide

Already the largest in the country, Los Angeles County’s Asian American population remained the fastest growing racial group, increasing at a rate (20%) nearly twice that of the Latino population (11%) between 2000 and 2010; its NHPI population, the largest in the continental United States, grew at a rate (9%) approaching that of Latinos over the same period. By comparison, the county’s total population grew only 3% over the decade. These trends have important implications for public policy.


There are more Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Taiwanese, Cambodian, Thai, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, and Burmese Americans living in Los Angeles County than in any other county in the United States. South Asians are among the county’s fastest growing ethnic groups; Bangladeshi (122%), Pakistani (59%), Sri Lankan (45%), and Indian (29%) American populations grew at particularly high rates between 2000 and 2010. Among NHPI, the Fijian (68%) American population is fastest growing. Among cities in Los Angeles County with 5,000 or more Asian Americans, 13 now have majority Asian American populations (12 are located in the San Gabriel Valley); 24 have populations that are one-quarter or more Asian American and more racially diverse. Asian American populations in Santa Clarita, La Crescenta-Montrose, Lancaster, Temple City, and Pasadena are the fastest growing countywide.


No county in the nation is home to more immigrants than Los Angeles County

There are nearly 930,000 Asian American and 7,700 NHPI immigrants in Los Angeles County; data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security show more than 310,000 Asian American and 1,300 NHPI immigrants countywide obtained legal permanent resident (LPR) status between 2000 and 2010. The report estimates that roughly 130,000 Asian Americans in Los Angeles County are undocumented.


Increasing numbers of Asian Americans and NHPI in Los Angeles County are unemployed and living below the poverty line

The number of NHPI and Asian Americans in Los Angeles County who are unemployed and living below the poverty line also continues to grow. ACS data show that the number of unemployed NHPI and Asian Americans grew 111% and 89% respectively between 2007 and 2011; they also reveal corresponding increases in the number of NHPI and Asian Americans who are poor. Among ethnic groups, over half of Tongan Americans and a quarter of Cambodian Americans countywide live below the poverty line.


The report was launched at the Japanese American National Museum with over 200 community members, policy makers, foundations, and businesses. The panel featured Dr. Linda Lopez, Chief of the Los Angeles City Office of Immigrant Affairs; Lian Cheun, Executive Director of Khmer Girls in Action; and Alisi Tulua, Program Manager of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities and Community Health Liaison of Asian Pacific American Obesity Prevention Alliance.

The report’s launch event was co-sponsored by APAIT Health Center, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON), Asian Youth Center (AYC), California State Assemblymember Ed Chau, Cambodian Association of America (CAA), Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF), Chinatown Service Center (CSC), Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), Guam Communications Network (GCN), Khmer Girls in Action (KGA), Korean Resource Center (KRC), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), Nakatomi & Associates, Office of Samoan Affairs (OSA), Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP), Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), South Asian Network (SAN), Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC), Tongan Community Service Center–SSG (TCSC), and United Cambodian Community (UCC).

A Community of Contrasts:  Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County was made possible by the generous support of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Cyrus Chung Ying Tang Foundation, and Bank of America.


Related Materials

Download the full report here

Other reports in the Community of Contrasts series

Press Release

Press Coverage

Los Angeles Times




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