An analysis of data from the 2006-8 American Community Survey shows that Asian-Americans are the fastest growing racial minority in the United States since the 2000 Census. They barely edge out Latinos (34.6% vs. 33.2%) in population growth (albeit from a much smaller base). The population of African-Americans increased a substantial 15.9% while non-Hispanic Whites barely nudged ahead of the 2000 Census figures with a paltry 2.6% increase in population (ACS 2006-8).
Table 1 United States Population Increase 2000 to 2008, by Race
|Population: 2008 Census Estimate||Population: 2000 Census||Percentage Increase|
A picture of Asian-American material success begins to emerge when one examines the median household income growth figures (inflation adjusted) and is further illustrated by the number of households that claim an income of over $200,000.
Table 2 clearly shows that Asian-American households used the beginning of the 21st Century to increase their median household income by 33.0% to $69,047, significantly widening their lead over all other racial categories and nearly doubling the median household income of African-Americans ($35,086).
It is important to note that within the broad category of “Asian-American”, there are significant different rates of median household income. The 2000 Census found that Indian-Americans had the highest median income ($63,669) followed by Filipinos ($60,570). At the bottom end were the Cambodians ($36,155), the Malaysians ($35,767), and the Hmong ($32,076). Each of these low income ethnic groups are relatively small in number compared to the two largest Asian ethnic groups, Chinese and Indians.
As there are no current income statistics by ethnic group in the ACS, it is impossible to know how they have fared over the last 8 years. My guess is that along with the rest of the country, the 2010 Census will show the greatest gains in personal income going to those already at the top of the distribution.
Table 2 Median Household income Increase 2000-2008, by Race
|Median Household Income: 2006-8 ACS||Median Household Income: 2000 Census||Percentage Increase|
The +$200,000 Club
The story that the rich have gotten a lot richer over the last twenty years is an old story. The physical proof of wealth pooling at the top is easily seen in the vast expanses of nouveaux riche McMansions on the periphery of almost any self respecting American metro area. The teardown phenomenon in older wealthy neighborhoods is but another symptom of this increase in high-income households. American material success, following a well worn path in history, has a strong penchant for displaying wealth and prosperity through architecture. Americans aren’t what we eat…. we’re what we live in!
The increase in the number of American households that claimed an income of over $200,000 between 2000 and the ACS of 2006-8 is stunning. Although the total number of households in the United States increased by 8.0%, the number earning over $200,000 skyrocketed by 88.2%. The number of Asian-Americans earning over that amount increased an incredible 181.5%– a growth rate more than twice the national average and more than 3 1/2 times the growth rate in African-American families (a healthy increase of 48.9%, but lagging considerably behind other racial categories).
Table 3: Number of Households Earning Greater than $200,000, by Race
|Number of Households with Income over $200,000: ACS 2006-2008||Number of Households with Income over $200,000: Census 2000||% Increase|
Asian-Americans Flock to America’s Wealthiest Suburbs
As the number of high income Asian households increases dramatically, they have moved easily into America’s most elite suburbs as well as many other places that may not be the richest, but extremely comfortable.
Table Four lists 22 well-to-do American suburbs and illustrates the huge increase in the percentage and number of Asian households. These increases are much larger than the Asian-American population growth in general and corresponds to their growing affluence as a racial group.
The vast majority of the 22 wealthy suburbs listed below have experienced modest population growth. Many are geographically landlocked and their slow but steady growth is usually associated with intensified land-use. However. the growth in the Asian population is overall quite remarkable. As can be seen in the table the only place on the list to see a decrease in the Asian population was found in Potomac, Maryland. Note that the decrease is tiny and well within the statistical variance.
Table 4 High Income Places with Large Asian-American Populations
|City, Town, or Village||ST||Median Household Income: 2006-8 ACS||Percent Asian: 2006-8 ACS||Percent Asian: 2000 Census|
|West Windsor Township||NJ||$137,179||30.2%||21.9%|
|Rancho Palos Verdes||CA||$111,421||27.4%||21.6%|
|La Canada Flintridge||CA||$140,474||25.4%||15.7%|
|Town of North Hempstead||NY||$102,861||13.0%||9.2%|
|Town of Greenburgh||NY||$101,154||10.2%||9.0%|
Cupertino, California: An Asian-American Success Story
Cupertino, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. Apple is headquartered in the city and just a short distance from a major Hewlett-Packard complex.Cupertino has joined Milpitas, California as the second Asian majority affluent suburb in the United States. Cupertino may be an insignificant socio-economic notch below Saratoga to the south or Los Altos Hills to the north, but it is very affluent by any American standard. On Dec 5th, 2009, Zillow.com’s valued the typical Cupertino home at $964,700. The schools are superb and Cupertino has extraordinarily high levels of adult education attainment befitting a high tech mecca. More adults have graduate or professional degrees (41.0%) than measly Bachelors degrees (34.1%)!
Between 2000 and 2006-8 the percentage of Asian households has increased from 44.4% to 57.1%. Cupertino’s Asian population is dominated by two ethnic groups. Chinese-Americans makeup 47.7% of Cupertino’s Asian population and Indian-Americans makeup an additional 32.2% of the Asian population (2006-8 ACS). With majority status comes political power. I will leave it to the Political Scientists to let us know how local power politics are playing out! Better yet, it would be interesting to hear from some Cupertinos (?) as to racial relations in their fair city. Drop a note on my blog!
Map of Cupertino, California
View Cupertino, California in a larger map
Asian Diversity in the Southeastern Bay
Although not geographically part of Silicon Valley, but close by, are two excellent examples of affluent suburbs with large Asian populations: Milpitas and Fremont
Located to the northeast of San Jose, Milpitas’ population is 60.3% Asian, an increase from 51.8% in the 2000 Census. It is interesting that the population of Milpitas has a very diverse Asian population (Filipinos, 30.6% of all Asians; Chinese, 22.9%; Vietnamese, 20.7%; Indian, 18.4%). Milpitas has one Higley 1000 neighborhood that surrounds the Summitpointe Golf Club on the city’s east side.
Fremont, just north of Milpitas, is a large city (206,241) that has a high median household income ($94.979, ACS) and a large, diverse Asian population that is dominated by Chinese (36.3% of all Asian groups), and Indians (34.1%)… a close second in population (well within the margin or error). The third largest Asian contingent in Fremont is Filipino. They contribute 12.4% of the Asian-American population.
Fremont has three of the four highest percentage Asian neighborhoods in the entire United States in the Higley 1000 neighborhoods. They are all found in the Mission San Jose district of the city: Mission Hills-Vineyards North, 74.6 % Asian; Cameron Hills South, 63.9% Asian; and Avalon-Vineyards South, 54.2% Asian. It should be noted that Fremont’s highest income neighborhoods are significantly more Asian than the rest of the city.
In both Fremont and Milpitas, the largest percentage increase among Asian population subcategories was clearly seen in American-Indian households. The population increase was significant at 58.4% in Fremont and 66.9% in Milpitas.
Map of Fremont-Milpitas Higley 1000 Neighborhoods (2000)
View Fremont-Milpitas, California in a larger map
In summary, the 2010 Census will give us more concrete numbers and it is my opinion that we will see the estimates of the American Community Survey confirmed: Asian-Americans are flocking to our wealthiest Suburbs in large numbers driven by high levels of education and income.