Uncharted Territory

The view of Asian America from the 2010 Census

November 6, 2011

Illustrations by Lydia Ortiz & Patrick Rafanan


Check out Hyphen's original infographic spreads here: Population DataLanguages, Education, Internet, Income, Health, Veterans, Voting, Businesses, Poverty, Future.

We are in an age where Facebook could arguably paint a more
accurate picture of the American population. But the US census, one of
America's oldest mandates, remains a vital benchmark of growth and change.

Results from last year’s census show signs of growth
and economic success in the Asian American community, but also highlight
huge disparities. As in previous census years, statistics indicate Asian
Americans as an economically successful and highly educated population.
However, they also illuminate the staggering high school dropout rates among
Southeast Asian Americans, the health problems of chronic hepatitis B and
cervical cancer in the AAPI population and the fact that someone in this group
with a bachelor’s degree is more likely to be unemployed than a White person
with comparable education.

These are the facts, but questions remain. How does our high level
of access to the Internet affect our education levels? What accounts for
mixed-race population growth in specific states? Were increases in population
due in part to better outreach to poor communities and people of color,
traditionally undercounted by the census?

Statistics may show that Asian Americans are above average in
education level and make more than the country’s median household income, but
in the ethnic breakdowns, it’s clear that certain Asian subgroups reflect a
vastly different reality. The status of Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian and other
smaller yet distinct communities go unnoticed in the larger Asian American context,
making federal and local resources and services at risk of being directed away
from where they are desperately needed. Though the “Native Hawaiian and other
Pacific Islander” population was designated as its own category in the 2000
census, after a decades-long movement for its disaggregation, specific
community needs are not met when social services and local agencies continue to
lump the populations together with East Asian and Southeast Asian data.

Over the past five months, Hyphen teamed with the White House Initiative
on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
to present a series of census stories
on our website, each focusing on a different sector of life such as the
economy, education or health in relation to the Asian American population. We
interviewed true movers and shakers about their opinions on the emerging data
and highlighted individuals whose stories mirror the national trends of today. Read our ongoing census coverage here, and check out Hyphen's original infographic spreads about the 2010 Census.

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Nicole Wong

Senior Editor

Nicole Wong is a senior editor for Hyphen living in San Francisco. By day, she's a media engagement strategist at Active Voice, tackling social issues through the creative use of film.



Great graphic, one question though.... where are the Hispanics? The 2010 Census does show people of Hispanic descent make up 16% of this nations population, making them the largest minority. A reader who see's this graphic could easily assume White and Black people make up the largest groups.... anyway keep up the great content! ––
Thanks Tonypinball! I agree, we should have included the Hispanic/Latino population in this infographic, but it was based on how the Census Bureau and federal government classify race. Identifying if you are "of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin" is a separate question on the census from identifying your race (represented here in the infographic). Being "Hispanic or Latino" or "Not Hispanic or Latino" are the two categories for data on ethnicity. But yes, it would have been good to include the 16% for comparison -- thanks for your feedback! Links: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_1997standards/ ; http://2010.census.gov/2010census/text/text-form.php ; https://ask.census.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/216/kw/hispanic/session/L...