A Community of Contrasts – Midwest Demographic Report


CHICAGO—The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (“Advancing Justice”) released today— A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the Midwest, 2012—one of the most comprehensive reports on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) in the 12 states that comprise the Midwest. A Community of Contrasts provides detailed data based on Census 2010 and other sources, including disaggregated data for 20 Asian American and NHPI subgroups. The report shows a rapidly-growing community that faces different socio-economic challenges across ethnic groups and provides concrete policy recommendations addressing the specific needs of this diverse and complex community.

“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders comprise an incredibly diverse community and we are fortunate that the decennial Census now captures data reflective of this diversity,” said Stewart Kwoh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the principle researcher for the report. “We hope that this new Midwest report will help community groups and policy makers address the great variation across Asian American and NHPI ethnic groups in everything from immigration and naturalization rates to poverty, income and education rates.”

The report was released in Chicago during Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities on the Rise, the fourth annual Advancing Justice Conference, held in the Midwest for the first time this year.  Key Illinois highlights in the report include:

  • Population growth: Asian American population in the Chicago metro area grew 39 percent. More than 580,000 Asian Americans and nearly 10,000 NHPIs now live in the Chicago metro area.
  • Civic engagement: Approximately 58 percent of Asian American immigrants in the Chicago metro area are citizens of the United States. Asian American voter registration in Illinois increased 53 percent between 2000 and 2008, the largest growth in voter registration among all racial groups.
  • Economic contributions and struggles: Asian American entrepreneurs in Illinois own more than 59,000 businesses, employing nearly 103,000 people with an annual payroll of nearly $3.2 billion, and Asian American-owned firms employ more people and dispense more in payroll than firms owned by most other racial groups. On the other hand, between 2007 and 2010, the number of unemployed Asian Americans in Illinois grew 200 percent, a rate higher than any other racial group statewide.

“Chicago’s shifting ethnic landscape mirrors what’s happening across the nation, so it’s important to think carefully about what our changing community means for city and state services in areas such as language access,” said Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute.

Also of note in this election year is the increasing power of the Asian American electorate in the Midwest. Politically, Asian Americans in the Midwest are now the fastest-growing group of voters amongst all racial groups, and representation is increasing. Asian Americans now make up 26 percent of the voting age population (VAP) in Illinois State House District 16, 23 percent of VAP in State House District 2, and 21 percent of VAP in State House District 15.

“Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the U.S. with a 47 percent increase in growth in the Midwest since 2000,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian American Justice Center. “This growth can be seen most directly by the community’s increase in engagement and influence on the local and state level, as well in congressional and presidential elections.”

The 12 states covered in the report include: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. A Community of Contrasts was made possible in part, by the generous support of Bank of America, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, and Cyrus Chung Ying Tang Foundation.