Report: Asian-American Subgroups Among Nation’s Poorest


A new report out from the University of California, Los Angeles is reporting that some sub groups of Asian Americans are among the nation’s poorest populations, based on income sources, home foreclosures and housing burden. While at first glance this may seem contrary to the stereotype about successful Asian Americans, this shouldn’t be a surprise given 8Asians has already reported on higher poverty rates in the Asian American community in 2011, Asian Americans being more adversely affected by the housing downturn, Asian Americans being affected most by long term unemployment , and Asian American seniors being hit harder by the recession.

Southeast Asians seem to be among the hardest hit, even after four decades of living in the United States. Researchers found that language barriers remained persistent as did access to new labor markets.

The UCLA report examined home ownership, income sources and other assets of Asian-Americans in eight states. In the eight states examined, including California and Mississippi (with the largest and one of the smallest Asian American populations), foreign-born Asian Americans accounted for at least 64 percent of the group, a rate higher that of foreign-born Latinos.

Southeast Asians, including Hmong and Cambodian Americans were more likely to receive cash public assistance compared with Asian Americans as a whole or the Caucasian population.

The rate of home ownership among Asian Americans as a whole declined 1.5 times faster than that among Caucasians during the recession. The subgroups hit hardest lost as much as 20 percent of their home value. In some areas of the country, Cambodians, Filipinos and Koreans lost their homes to foreclosure at rates twice that of Whites.

The new report points out once again, that it’s necessary to break out Asian Americans into the sub-groups, because we’re not all the same, and some of us could use a hand, and those that could use a hand may also be the ones least likely to go looking for a hand out. My own parents lived close to the poverty line when they first moved to the United States, but refused to go in search of a hand out, always making sure we lived on what my dad made and brought home. I wrote in a previous 8Asians piece about how my parents helped stretch my dad’s income by fishing for snappers and making rou-song from the snappers. I also heard on NPR this morning that those who are in need and living in the suburbs are the hardest to see, because they try to blend in and don’t necessarily want to be helped, like my parents.

Photo Credit: Lee Wag

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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