The nation's Asian population grew faster than any other racial or ethnic group over the last decade, surging almost 46% between 2000 and 2010, says a new Census Bureau report.
The number of Americans who identify as Asian, either alone or in combination with another race, rose to more than 17 million during the decade, the report showed. That was more than four times the rate of growth for the U.S. population as a whole, which increased about 10% over that period.
By comparison, the Latino population rose 43%. Other groups grew much more slowly. Those identifying as African American, either alone or with another race, grew by 15% between 2000 and 2010, while those identifying as white, alone or in combination, increased by 7%.
The rising Asian population was propelled mainly by immigration, with newcomers arriving from across the Asian Pacific region and Indian subcontinent, census officials said this week. .
The analysis was the latest in a series of Census Bureau reports on the nation's major racial and ethnic groups, drawing on results from the 2010 census.
The new report shows that California, the traditional gateway for Asian immigrants, has by far the largest population of Asian Americans, with nearly 6 million, or almost a third of the nation's total. The state's Asian population grew 34% during the decade, but that was outpaced in many other states, including neighboring Nevada, where it grew 116%, and Arizona, up 95%.
In fact, the population of those identifying as Asian or partly Asian rose by at least 30% over the decade in every state except Hawaii, where Asians already make up a majority.
Over the years, the children and grandchildren of Asian immigrants are composing a progressively larger share of the U.S. Asian population, but "immigration is still the key driver," said Paul Ong, a UCLA professor of public affairs and Asian American studies.
Ong said many Asian immigrants come to the U.S. for higher education or economic reasons, with others arriving for family reunification or as refugees. In recent years, they have become more dispersed throughout the country, although overall, Asians remain heavily concentrated in the West.
Among metropolitan areas, New York had the largest Asian population in 2010, with more than 1 million, followed by Los Angeles with 484,000 and San Jose, with 327,000. Four other California cities — San Francisco, San Diego, Fremont and Sacramento — were among the top 12 metro areas for Asians.
Among national groups, Chinese Americans were the largest, with more than 4 million who identified as Chinese alone or with another race. They were followed by Filipinos, with 3.4 million, and Asian Indians, with 3.2 million.
The full report is on the Census Bureau website: census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-11.pdf