Asian Americans are fastest growing racial group in San Diego, with increasing number of poor

Demographics of Asians in San DiegoSpecial Report for THEFILAMLA

SAN DIEGO – The Asian American population in San Diego County is the fastest growing racial group according to a new report released recently by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC). The report, “A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in San Diego County,” also finds that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are experiencing dramatic growth in the number who are unemployed and poor.

According to the 2010 Census, San Diego County is home to 410,000 Asian Americans and 31,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). The number of Filipino Americans is included mostly in the census of Asians and Pacific Islanders.

One out of every seven residents countywide is Asian American or NHPI. Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population in San Diego County grew 38%, faster than any other racial group. The NHPI population grew 25% over the decade. In contrast, the county’s total population grew only 10% and the White population decreased 3% over the same period.

Record numbers of Asian Americans and NHPI in San Diego County are registering to vote and casting ballots. Nearly 90,000 Asian Americans were registered to vote countywide as of the 2012 General Election. While Asian Americans made up 6% of the county’s voters during that election, of those old enough to vote, they make up over half the margin of victory in several legislative districts, including State Assembly Districts 77 and 79, State Senate District 39, and Congressional District 52.

While Asian American– and Pacific Islander–owned businesses are making real contributions and have created over 50,000 jobs in San Diego County, growing numbers of Asian Americans and NHPI struggle to make ends meet.

“Data in this report show tremendous social and economic diversity in San Diego’s Asian American and NHPI community,” said Kristin Sakaguchi, a research analyst at Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and the primary author of the report.

“In contrast to the model minority stereotype, some have achieved success, while others are facing considerable challenges.”

advancing justice 6 20 15 resizeFrom 2007 to 2013, the number of unemployed Asian Americans grew 95% and the number of unemployed NHPI increased 103%. During the same period, the number of Asian Americans and NHPI living below the poverty line increased 56% and 23%, respectively.

“Our diverse communities are growing at top rates and making real contributions to San Diego, but many also need help,” said Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “This growth deepens the urgency of our public policy concerns.”

The report finds that the success of some Asian Americans and NHPI in the education arena overshadows significant challenges faced by others.

Data from the California Department of Education show that NHPI students are both less likely to graduate from high school and to have completed the required courses for college admission. Among adults, Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans are among those least likely to have a high school degree. Samoan and Laotian American adults are less likely than all racial groups countywide to have a college degree.

Asian Americans and NHPI are disproportionately impacted by disease, but many lack access to care and health insurance. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Asian Americans (there is a higher proportion of Asian American deaths due to cancer, compared to other racial groups). Heart disease is the leading cause of death among NHPI. NHPI have an age-adjusted death rate higher than all racial groups countywide. Approximately 50,000 Asian Americans and 4,300 NHPI in San Diego County are uninsured.

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