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Asians outnumber Hispanics among new immigrants to the US

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by Damien Tomkins
Since 2009, more new immigrants to the United States have come from Asia than from Latin America. | Image courtesy Pew Research Center

Asians are now the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. The steady rise of Asian immigration has coincided with a precipitous drop in the number of immigrants from Latin America, especially Mexico. In 2009, the number of new Asian immigrants outnumbered those from Mexico for the first time, making up 36% of all new immigrants to the United States that year.

The number of Asians in the US has quadrupled over the last three decades to 17.3 million, or about 6% of the total population, as Asia Matters for America has previously reported. Three-quarters of all Asian Americans are foreign born, with large immigration to the United States beginning with the landmark passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, according to the report. The majority of Asians in the US come from six countries: China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The report includes exhaustive details on Asian American demographics and life outlook, finding that Asian Americans are the fastest growing, highest-earning, and most highly educated population in the US. Nearly half of Asian Americans hold a college degree, compared to 28% of the overall US population. They have a higher median annual household income ($66,000) than the overall US population ($49,800). Asian Americans are more likely than others to inter-marry with other racial groups, with 54% stating that having a successful marriage is one of the most important goals in life, compared to 34% of the US population. Asian American children are the highest percentage of children raised in a household with two married parents, (80% vs. 63%).

Japanese American Highlights  

The Pew report finds that of the roughly 900,000 adult Japanese Americans recorded in the 2010 census—the sixth-largest group of Asian Americans—the majority live predominantly along the West Coast and nearly one-third are foreign born. Japanese Americans are among the most likely of US-Asians to inter-marry, with 71% claiming that they would be “very comfortable” if their offspring married a partner from a different country, and 67% would be “very comfortable” with a non-Asian marriage. Therefore it is no surprise that Japanese Americans have the highest rate of intermarriage among newlywed Asians. The median annual income for Japanese Americans is the highest of all Asian Americans at $54,000 versus $48,000, though median annual household income is slightly lower at $65,390 compared to $66,000 for Asian Americans.

Click here for full details on Japanese Americans from the Pew report

Korean American Highlights

The Pew report finds that of the roughly 1.26 million adult Korean Americans recorded in the 2010 census—the fifth-largest group of Asian Americans—45 percent live in the West and almost 79% are foreign born. Among those aged 25 and older, 53 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, but 15 percent of Korean Americans live below the poverty line, more than the Asian American rate of 12 percent. Nearly two-thirds of Korean Americans say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important goals in life, compared with 54% of Asian Americans. Korean Americans rank first among Asian Americans in stating their preference that future generations in the US speak their ancestral language.

Click here for full details on Korean Americans from the Pew report.

Filipino and Vietnamese Americans

The Pew report finds that of the roughly 2.3 million adult Filipino Americans recorded in the 2010 census—the second-largest group of Asian Americans—the vast majority live in the West and 69% are foreign born. Among those aged 25 and older, nearly half have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of the roughly 1.31 million adult Vietnamese Americans recorded in the 2010 census—the fourth-largest group of Asian Americans—the vast majority live in the West and 84% are foreign born. Even though Vietnamese Americans have the lowest median annual individual income at around $35,000, 94% say that there are more opportunities in the United States to get ahead compared to Vietnam. For Vietnamese Americans aged 25 and older, 26% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 49% for Asian Americans and 28% for the US general population.

Click here for full details on Filipino and Vietnamese Americans from the Pew report. (The report does not offer breakdowns for other immigration from other Southeast Asian countries.)