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New Report Provides Insight into AAPI Workforce

August 10, 2011

Last month, the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report that provides a detailed look at Asian American and Pacific Islander workers in the United States.  Written by Hye Jin Rho, John Schmitt, and Nicole Woo of CEPR and Lucia Lin and Kent Wong of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, the report provides a portrait of a community that is both diverse and subject to many of the same forces and trends that impact the broader workforce.

With 7.4 million workers, AAPIs make up 5.3 percent of  the overall workforce in the United States.  The report highlights three broad themes vis-à-vis this community.  First, AAPI workers are very diverse.  They come from a variety of countries, speak many languages, work in a multitude of industries and have divergent levels of education.  One of the most striking findings of the report is that while AAPIs have a greater level of educational achievement than whites, blacks and Hispanics, they are also less likely than whites to have a high school degree.  Another interesting finding is that fully three-quarters of AAPIs are immigrants.  By way of comparison, only 54% of Hispanic workers were born outside the United States.

A second broad theme the report highlights is that AAPIs face myriad challenges in the labor market.  For example, AAPI workers have higher earnings inequality than all other racial/ethnic groups.  They are also much less likely to be homeowners than white workers.

A third theme that emerges is that many of the challenges that AAPI workers face are in fact reflective of trends affecting all workers.  The declining level of employer-sponsored health insurance for AAPIs is part of an across-the-board pattern affecting workers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.  Similarly, AAPI workers struggle with high unemployment rates.

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