For nearly a year, Sacramento State professors Timothy Fong, director of the Asian American Studies Program, and Greg Kim-Ju of psychology pored over data from the 2000 Census to produce the first comprehensive look at the status of Asian American and Pacific Islander American ethnic groups in the city of Sacramento.
In their report, “Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Sacramento: A Community Profile, 2000 and Beyond,” Fong and Kim- Ju reveal some alarming statistics. For example, the poverty rate in Sacramento for both Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, at 25 percent and 27 percent respectively, is double the national poverty rate for the same two groups.
They also found that some ethnic groups in Sacramento have extremely high poverty rates: 38 percent among Vietnamese Americans, 46 percent for Hmong Americans and 53 percent for Samoan Americans. On the other hand, the 5 percent poverty rate of Japanese Americans was the lowest of all groups. Fong attributed the high levels of poverty to the large number of immigrants and refugees who have little education and earn low wages.
“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 researchers say they hope the report will be useful to scholars as well as community organizations, businesses and government agencies.
The report contained other key findings:
» Fewer Asian Americans in Sacramento have college degrees than elsewhere in California or nationwide.
» 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.
» The percentage of schoolage children in the Asian American community in Sacramento is more than double state and national percentages.
The researchers estimate that Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans now make up nearly a quarter of the city’s residents. Fong and Kim-Ju also noted that Hmong Americans experienced a 164 percent growth rate between 1990 and 2000, and could become the community on a largest Asian American ethnic group in Sacramento by 2010, surpassing Chinese Americans.
The full report can be found at www.csus.edu/aas.