Asian-Americans Make Up Most of the New U.S. Immigrant Population

Although the majority of U.S. foreign-born residents are Latin American, recent immigrants are most likely to arrive from Asia.

ANCESTRY OF ASIANS IN AMERICA

in thousands

21

Mongolia

Japan

1,411

Korea

1,822

China

4,948

SOUTH

ASIA

Nepal

Bhutan

Hmong*

299

140

24

Pakistan

Bangladesh

519

Myanmar

(Burma)

168

188

Vietnam

1,980

Laos

271

India

Thailand

295

3,982

Cambodia

330

Philippines

3,899

Sri Lanka

Malaysia

60

30

113

Indonesia

*THE HMONG ARE AN ETHNIC GROUP ORIGINATING IN CHINA AND LIVING IN MULTIPLE SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES.

ALBERTO LUCAS LÓPEZ, NGM STAFF; SHELLEY SPERRY

SOURCES: PEW RESEARCH CENTER; NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING STATISTICS, NSF; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU. NOTES: ALL DATA 2015. SOME GROUPS WERE OMITTED WHEN DATA WERE INCOMPLETE OR NOT AVAILABLE.

ANCESTRY OF ASIANS IN AMERICA

in thousands

Mongolia

21

Japan

1,411

Korea

1,822

China

4,948

SOUTH

ASIA

Nepal

Bhutan

299

Hmong*

140

24

Pakistan

Bangladesh

519

Myanmar

(Burma)

168

188

Vietnam

1,980

Laos

271

India

295

Thailand

3,982

Philippines

Cambodia

330

3,899

Sri Lanka

Malaysia

30

60

Indonesia

113

*THE HMONG ARE AN ETHNIC GROUP ORIGINATING IN CHINA AND LIVING IN MULTIPLE SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES.

ALBERTO LUCAS LÓPEZ, NGM STAFF; SHELLEY SPERRY

SOURCES: PEW RESEARCH CENTER; NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING STATISTICS, NSF; U.S. CENSUS BUREAU. NOTES: ALL DATA 2015. SOME GROUPS WERE OMITTED WHEN DATA WERE INCOMPLETE OR NOT AVAILABLE.

This graphic—drawn from 2010 and 2015 data—details the countries of origin of Asian-Americans in the U.S.


The number of foreign-born residents in the United States is now the highest it has been since 1910, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Compared to past decades, the country’s newest immigrants are most likely to come from Asia.

William H. Frey from the Brookings Institute analyzed the census data, which covers 2010-2017, and found that 41 percent of immigrants during those years arrived from Asia, while 39 percent came from Latin America, reports the New York Times. Though foreign-born U.S. residents as a whole are primarily Latin American—50 percent of the population, as opposed to the 31 percent who are Asian—recent data may suggest tides are shifting.

A demographer and professor at the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center, Frey explains the growing demographics of Asian-American communities in the U.S. in his recently published book Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America. According to 2010 data, Chinese and Indian residents make up the largest and second-largest portions of America’s Asian population, with the greatest numbers of both groups residing in New York City. Los Angeles is home to the country’s largest Filipino, Vietnamese, and Korean communities, who make up the next biggest Asian populations in the nation. With the rise in Asian-Americans across the country, however, Asian-American communities are now flourishing in Atlanta, Austin, and Raleigh.

This expanding Asian immigration also coincides with an increase in highly educated immigrants. Frey found that 45 percent of immigrants who entered the country after 2010 had college degrees, compared to 30 percent of those who arrived between 2000 and 2009.

Despite rising education levels of the U.S. immigrant population in recent years, economic disparity among Asian-Americans is growing. The Pew Research Center reports that “income inequality in the U.S. is greatest among Asians.” The difference between high-earning Asian-Americans and their low-earning counterparts is vast, with those at the top of the spectrum earning 10 times more than those at the bottom.