POSTSCRIPT / May 25, 2021 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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FilAms are 3rd top US-Asian migrants

THE latest US census counted 4,211,440 Filipino Americans in the United States, making them one of the three biggest immigrant sub-groups of the 23,241,740 Asian Americans striving to make their positive presence felt in various fields in America.

The 2019 census showed the Asian American population now topped by Indians, 4,605,550 (19.82 percent of all US Asians); Chinese, 5,172,492 (22.26%); Filipinos, 4,211,440 (18.12%); Vietnamese, 2,182,735 (9.39%); Koreans, 1,908,053 (8.21%); and Japanese, 1,484,186 (6.39%).

More of the FilAms tend to settle in California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, and Washington. Many Filipinos on the West Coast cite its less harsh weather and their feeling somewhat near their home country just across the Pacific.

Although proficient in English, most FilAms also speak their native language in their homes. The average Filipino migrant has a higher educational level than the average American, and the average FilAm household’s income is generally higher than that of the average US family.

Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, bringing with them their unique histories, cultures, languages, and other characteristics.

Reporting on the census, the Pew Research Center said: “(Asian Americans) are projected to become the largest immigrant group, surpassing Hispanics, in 2055. By then, Asians are expected to make up 36 percent of all immigrants in the US, while Hispanics will make up 34 percent.”

The Center also noted: “People from Asia made up about 14 percent of the 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2017. Four nations in Asia were among the top 15 countries of birth of unauthorized immigrants: India (525,000), China (375,000), the Philippines (160,000), and Korea (150,000).”

It projected that while Asian Americans now make up about 7 percent of the overall US population, their number could surpass 46 million by 2060, nearly four times their current total. It added:

“The single-race, non-Hispanic segment of the US Asian population makes up a large majority (83 percent) of all Asians in the country. This population is also the nation’s fastest-growing racial or ethnic group. Between 2000 and 2019, their number grew by 81 percent, outpacing a 70-percent increase among Hispanics. The Black population grew by 20 percent during this span, while there was virtually no change in the White population.

“Chinese Americans are the largest Asian origin group, making up 23 percent of the US Asian population, or 5.4 million people. The next two largest origin groups are Indian Americans, who account for 20 percent of the total (4.6 million people), and Filipinos, who account for 18 percent (or 4.2 million people).”

• Average FilAm is better educated, earns more

OVERALL, the census showed that 72 percent of Asian Americans were “proficient” in English, meaning they either spoke only English or spoke the language very well. Nearly all US-born Asians (95 percent) were proficient in English, compared with 57 percent of foreign-born Asians.

Pew Research went on to report: “About a third of US-Asians (34 percent) speak only English in their homes. The remaining 66 percent speak a language other than English at home. The most common of these is Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese, spoken by 34 percent of Asians at home.

“Hindi (13 percent) is the second most commonly spoken non-English language among Asians, followed by Tagalog and other Filipino languages (9 percent), and Vietnamese (7 percent).

“Nearly two-thirds of US-born Asians (65 percent) speak only English at home. Most Asian immigrants, by contrast, speak a language other than English when home. About a quarter of Asian Americans (27 percent) live in multigenerational households.

“Asians have a lower homeownership rate than the US public overall (59 percent vs. 64 percent). Nevertheless, the homeownership rate is on the rise among Asian Americans, increasing from 53 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2019.

“Immigrant Asians were slightly more likely than those born in the US to be homeowners in 2019 (60 percent vs. 56 percent). Among the entire US population, however, immigrants were less likely than the US-born to own a home in 2019 (53 percent vs. 66 percent).

“On the whole, Asian Americans do well on measures of economic well-being compared with the overall US population, but this varies widely among Asian origin groups.

“In 2019, the median annual household income of households headed by Asian people was $85,800, compared with $61,800 among all US households. Foreign-born Asian households earned slightly more than those headed by US-born Asians ($88,000 vs. $85,000).

“These overall figures hide differences among Asian origin groups, however. Households headed by Burmese Americans, for example, had significantly lower incomes than Asian Americans overall ($44,400 vs. $85,800).

“By contrast, only two Asian origin groups had higher household incomes than among Asian Americans overall: those headed by Indian Americans ($119,000) and those headed by Filipino Americans ($90,400).

“All told, 12 Asian origin groups had higher median household incomes than the median among all Americans. Asians are less likely than Americans overall to live in poverty (10 percent vs. 13 percent as of 2019).

“More than half of Asians aged 25 and older (54 percent) have a bachelor’s degree or more education, compared with 33 percent of the US population in the same age range. Similar shares of US-born (55 percent) and foreign-born Asians (54 percent) have earned a college degree. Both figures are substantially higher than the share of all US-born people and all US immigrants with a college degree (32 percent each).”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 25, 2021)

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