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Asians in America: What the Census Showed

Updated on April 1, 2012

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the term “Asian” defines anyone who originated in the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent. This includes China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It also includes anyone who marks their race as Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese or Other Asian. All information is from that census.


Asians comprised about 5.6 percent of the total population of the U.S. That’s about 17.3 million out of a total population of 308.7 million. As for the other ethnic groups:

(click column header to sort results)
231 million
Latino or Hispanic
50.4 million
Black or African American
42 million
American Indian and Alaska Native
5.2 million
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
1.2 million
21.7 million


In terms of ethnicity, the Asians of Chinese descent were the largest at 3.8 million, followed by Filipinos at 3.2 million, Asian Indians at 2.8 million, Vietnamese at 1.7 million, Koreans at 1.6 million and Japanese at 1.3 million. The most widely spoken Asian language at home was Chinese, with 2.6 million speakers. Then followed Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean, with over 1 million speakers each.


Nearly 37 percent of all Asians in America lived in the South, 23 percent lived in the West, 22 percent lived in the Midwest and 18 percent lived in the Northeast. The state with the largest number of Asians was California at 5.6 million, followed by New York at 1.6 million. The state with the largest proportion was Hawaii, with 57 percent of the population identifying as Asian. The cities with the largest numbers of Asians were the following:

Metro Area
Total Population
Asian Population
Asian %
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
12.8 million
1.87 million
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NY-PA
18.8 million
1.87 million
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
4.3 million
1 million

In terms of proportion of the population, the following city had the greatest percentages of Asians:

Metro Area
Total Population
Asian Population
Asian %
Honolulu, HI
953 thousand
418 thousand
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, C
1.8 million
571 thousand
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
4.3 million
1 million


The median household income for Asians was higher than any racial group at $64,309. (Median income varied by Asian group with Asian Indians earning $90,429 in 2009, and Bangladeshi making $46,657.) This compared to U.S. median household income of $49,445, white income of $51,846, black income of $32,068, and Latino income of $37,759. About 15 percent of the total U.S. population lived in poverty. This translates to 12 percent for Asian, 13 percent for White, 27.4 percent for black and 26.6 percent for Latino.


About 85 percent of all Asians 25 and older had at least a high school diploma, which was similar to the total population of the country. About 50 percent had a bachelor’s degree or better, which compared to 28 percent of all Americans. About 20 percent had a master’s, doctorate or professional degrees. This compared to 10 percent of the total population.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think stats can be used to see if general strategies work but it's always good to take individual achievement and striving into account, Levertis Steele.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 5 years ago from Southern Clime

      Minnesotan is so right!

      Statistics can be used as the best "educated guesses," but some things and some people and situations are always , ALWAYS forgotten, omitted, or unseen. I use stats, but I do not worship them. For example, when abortion numbers were reported from the 70's on, no one considered the self-abortions, friend-assisted abortions, quack jobs, under reportings or professional secrets, or any other means of abortions that are not reported. So, stats cannot be accurate. It is next to impossible, regardless of samplings. Yet, they appear to be the best we have.

      It seems that every issue is about which race is doing the best, like a competition. When Asians are reported as excelling in anything, the chase to grab some is ON! When Americans show excellence on their report cards, the chase is ON! Human beings.

      I congratulate anyone who is doing well. I have never known a whole race to do well, although the whole race gets credit when a group from it does something well. That's nice, too, I suppose.

      It is always good to read such an interesting hub. A job well done, Alocsin!

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Alocsin, very interesting facts.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Some good points here. I'll see if I can dig up those stats for a followup article.

    • profile image

      Minnesotan 6 years ago

      This is very interesting, but I think there are some groups that have been hidden under the overall numbers.

      For example, in Minnesota, we currently have the lowest child poverty rate for white children, but the highest child poverty rate for Asian children, nationwide. There is a large community of Asian immigrants and refugees here who are living in poverty, who are not reading at ELL grade level by 3rd grade, and who face significant challenges in overcoming barriers and joining the 85 percent of Asians in America with a high school diploma.

      My point is simply that these positive stats are great, but I feel it is important not to forget about those who are not highlighted and are often forgotten.