Asian Americans: The Economy and Employment Issue

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Asian Americans: The Economy and Employment Issue

Problem Statement

Many Asian Americans compile a share of middle- and lower-class immigrants or refugees, who face the worst financial situation and unemployment more frequently than other subpopulations of panethnicity.

Significance of the Problem

An overall increase in Asian-American population and its minor subpopulations becomes a problem both for these ethnic groups and the American society, as well. The population of middle- and lower-class Asian immigrants from South Asian countries, undocumented immigrants, and refugees make up a significant share in the society. However, growing of subpopulations prompts changes in the United States economy, employment ratio, and contradictions in terms of income rates within the population. In turn, the issue leads to the change in the U.S. nation’s attitude to them implicitly.

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The rapid rates of Asian immigrants’ growth started in the early 1970s and continue to increase today. The percentage of Asian Americans represents the highest growth rate of 56 % from 2000 to 2013 among other ethnicities. In 2011, the demographic changes reached a tipping point, in which Asian minority birth ratio outnumbered the birth ratio of white population for the first time.

The Asian American panethnicity is considered to be the fastest-growing buying power and business owning share. The population is the most rapidly growing segment of the United States labor force with the lowest rates of unemployment and higher median annual household income than any other racial or ethnic group in the country. However, their economic experiences have varied. High rates of larger Asian American subpopulations often mask poverty and a lack of health insurance of substantial share of Asian American subpopulations, such as South Asians, who struggle with it.

A 2012 NAAS survey held that the majority of Asian subjects named the economy as the main national problem. Unemployment was placed second, and health care with education followed behind. Few participants considered a budget lack, poverty and inequality as other significant national issues (Figure 1).

Changes in perceptions of Asian American national problems in a period of 2008-2012

Figure 1. Changes in perceptions of Asian American national problems in a period of 2008-2012.

Figure 1 also shows that Asian Americans consider unemployment problem with a rise of 13%. Since 2008 and during four years, poverty and inequality and budget deficit aroused with the rate of 2.4% and 1.6% respectively.

An increase in the long-term unemployment among races on is being demonstrated in Figure 2.

The Long-term unemployment rate among races between 2007 and 2010

Figure 2. The Long-term unemployment rate among races between 2007 and 2010.

The chart shows that because of the Great Recession, long-term unemployment of Asian Americans rises permanently. Moreover, in 2010, it reached the same level of unemployment as black population, the rates of which used to be the highest.

Bar graph showing a seriousness of financial difficulties of Asian Americans in 2012

Figure 3. Bar graph showing a seriousness of financial difficulties of Asian Americans in 2012.

As it can be observed in Figure 3, 2012 NAAS has made a questionnaire about a significance of challenges Asian American population face. The analysis showed that college affordability (41%), elderly care expenses (34%), and student credits (31%) appeared as significant issues for them and their families. Also, medical bills, affordability of mortgage or rent, credit card liabilities trailed almost behind.

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Traces of the Problem

  • In 2010, Asian Americans had higher rates of change in unemployment and the longest duration of unemployment with advanced degrees compared to their white counterparts. Also, the Current Population Survey argued that people with identified ethnicity, such as Filipino (8.5 %) and Vietnamese (7.6%) demonstrated higher unemployment rates. Then, Asian Indians (6.6%), Chinese (6.5%) and Korean (6.4%) ethnicity had lower rates.
  • In 2012, NAAS reported that, since the economic crisis in 2008, 4.5% of the Asian American population accounted a home foreclosure, and 14% reported a job loss. Since 2008, 17 % either lost their job or house, with about 2 % losing both. Minor subpopulations are hit harder, namely Filipino and Hmong Americans testified home foreclosures about 10% and 11% respectively. Cambodians (23%) and 20% of Hmong indicated job losses and reported losing both their jobs and homes.
  • From 2007 to 2009, the level of long-term unemployment (half a year or more) increased from 20.9 % to 35.5 %. Moreover, till 2010, it reached a rate of 48.7 percent. For this period, Asian Americans displayed the second-highest degree of employment retention after an African American employee (see Figure 2).
  • Between 2011 and 2012, 21% of Asian Americans notified worse financial conditions than the subjects describing a better situation (19%). Also, Vietnamese (27%), Korean (28%), and Hmong (32%) Americans notified worsening of financial affairs during this period.

Causes of the Problem

The research paper considers the extent of an increase in the number of middle- and lower-class Asian immigrants as the crucial cause of economic problems and unemployment ratio. Mentioned classes mainly embrace refugee arrivals or South Asian immigrants. Such South Asian American ethnicities as Laotian, Cambodian, Hmong and Vietnamese Americans have lower educational attainment levels than the national average. Additionally, refugees have the lowest rates of education and high levels of poverty and unemployment. Consequently, the shares provide a significant counterpoint in comprehending educational attainment and earnings from those coming with employment-based motives. Besides, 47% of all refugees between 2001 and 2010 were Asian with mostly Vietnam, Bhutan, and Burma shares, and 43% of asylum seekers in the US were from Asian countries.

Moreover, a significant number of Asian immigrants use illegal pathways. In 2011, 13% of foreign-born Asians were undocumented, with India estimating for the fastest rising group of undocumented Asian aliens. Although Chinese are still considerably the largest group, during 2014, smaller origin groups began growing faster.  They have grown disproportionately about 11%. Even more, Bangladeshi American population grew at an exceptional rate of 177% between 2000 and 2010. Hmong and Bangladeshis are the youngest, with average ages of 23.9 and 30.1, respectively, and with only 3% of their particular populations` age being 65 years and over. The young age, low education and proficiency levels enforce them to obtain lower-paid jobs, which do not allow them to escape from poverty but enhance their overall employment rate.

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The differential impact of the Great Recession or, in other words, the post-2008 effect is a substantial factor in unemployment and other economic problems during 2008-2012.

The next social cause is considered to be nativity. In 2010, foreign-born Asian Americans with Bachelor`s degrees had a higher rate of unemployment (7.2%) than the United States born whites (4.6%) with the same education rate. Another cause could be that native Americans usually perceive Asian Americans as foreign born. Some theories argue that a language barrier, employer`s preferences for the U.S. citizens, and restrictions on hiring immigrants may prevent them from finding jobs quickly.

Another factor is that Asian Americans have longer employment retention as they reside in states with elevated averages of long-term joblessness (such as California).

Racial bias may also disclose their higher percentage, as Asian Americans have higher long-term unemployment indexes than the whites even after considering the differences in their education attainment and age distributions.

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Although Asian immigrants cover a larger share of the United States population, they face different challenges. The model minority stereotype states that the majority of Asian newcomers have already fulfilled the American Dream. However, Asian immigrants include many subgroups with both remarkably diverse needs and concerns, such as poverty or unemployment.

Increasing of a middle- and lower-class share, undocumented immigrants and refugees with low education attainment and language proficiency are the main factors of these issues. The nationality and racial biases, age and residence distributions should be also considered as reasons contributing to worsening of the situation.

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