A new study by researchers at Sacramento State finds that one out of every four
Asian and Pacific Islander American families in Sacramento lives below the poverty
line, a rate more than double for California and the nation.
Nearly 25 percent of Asian Americans in Sacramento live in poverty compared
to almost 13 percent of Asian Americans in California and nationwide. And nearly
27 percent of Pacific Islanders in Sacramento live in poverty compared to 15.7
percent in statewide and 17.7 percent across the country.
And some ethnic groups in Sacramento have extremely high poverty rates, including
46.1 percent for Hmong Americans. According to the federal government, the poverty
level for a family of four in 2006 is $20,000. The overall poverty rate in California
is 13.3 percent and almost 13 percent nationwide.
“These levels of extreme poverty in the Asian American and Pacific Islander
American community in Sacramento point out the need for increased social services
for the most disadvantaged groups,” said Timothy P. Fong, co-author of
the report and director of the Asian American Studies Program at Sacramento
State. Fong attributed the high levels of poverty to the large number of immigrants
and refugees who have little education and earn low wages.
The report, “Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Sacramento: A Community
Profile, 2000 and Beyond,” is the result of work by Fong and Sacramento
State Professor Greg Kim-Ju. The two spent nearly a year analyzing statistics
from the 2000 Census and other sources to compile the report, which the researchers
say is the first comprehensive look at the status of Asian and Pacific Islander
American ethnic groups in the city of Sacramento.
“We wanted to get a clearer picture of the highly visible and the less
visible aspects of the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Sacramento,”
said Kim-Ju, who has conducted similar community profiles while at the Institute
for Asian American Studies at UMass Boston.
Other key findings from the report:
The percentage of school-age
children in the Asian American community is more than double state and national
percentages. Researchers found that 19.9 percent of Asian Americans in Sacramento
are between the ages of 5 and 17.
Fewer Asian Americans
in Sacramento have college degrees than elsewhere in California or nationwide.
About one in four has either received a college, graduate or professional
degree, while 41.6 percent of Asian Americans in the state have a college
degree and 44.1 percent across the country. Hmong Americans at 4.8 percent
have one of the lowest percentages of Asian Americans with at least a bachelor’s
degree. Japanese Americans at 38.9 percent have the highest.
The median household
income for Asian Americans in Sacramento is considerably lower than for Asian
Americans in California and across the country. The median income is $38,398,
compared with $55,366 for Asian Americans in California and $51,908 nationwide.
The median household income for Pacific Islanders is $36,033.
The percentage of Asian
Americans in Sacramento receiving public assistance is almost three times
higher than Asian Americans elsewhere in California and nearly four times
higher than the national average. More than half of Hmong American households
receive public assistance.
Eleven percent of Asian
Americans between the ages of 5 and 17 lack proficiency in English, a finding
the researchers called an area of concern.
Nearly 10 percent of
Asian Americans do not have health insurance, a rate nearly twice as high
as whites at 5.7 percent. And Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have much
higher rates of tuberculosis.
estimate Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans make up nearly a quarter
of the city’s residents. The researchers noted that Hmong Americans experienced
a 164.5 percent growth rate between 1990 and 2000, and could be the largest
Asian American ethnic group in Sacramento by 2010, surpassing Chinese Americans.
Fong said he hopes the report will be useful to scholars as well as community
organizations, businesses and government agencies.
“Asian Americans have been known as the model minority, but our report
shows that there is much diversity within the Asian American community. While
some are doing very well others are not,” Fong said.
The report was produced with support from Kaiser Permanente, the Sacramento
Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, and the Council of Asian Pacific Islander
Americans Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL). Photos used in the
report courtesy of the Sacramento Bee.
To view the report go to www.csus.edu/aas/ Timothy P. Fong can be reached at
(916) 278-5856 and Greg Kim-Ju can be reached at (916) 278-6738. For media assistance,
call the public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.