The Evolving Geography of Asian America: Suburbs Are New High-Tech Chinatowns


In the coming decades, no ethnic group may have more of an economic impact on the local level in the U.S. than Asian-Americans. Asia is now the largest source of legal immigrants to the U.S., constituting 40% of new arrivals in 2013. They are the country’s highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group — their share of the U.S. population has increased from 4.2% in 2000 to 5.6% in 2010, and is expected to reach 8.6% by 2050.

Some Asian immigrant groups tend to struggle, notably Hmong, Laotians and Bangladeshis,,but on average, Indians, Chinese and Koreans do at least as well as Anglos, and in some cases better. In the 52 major metropolitan areas, Asians’ median household income is $70,600, compared to $66,100 for White non-Hispanics.

Widening the focus to smaller cities, for the most part, the most heavily Asian communities in America tend to be prosperous, and many are tech oriented. They also tend to be overwhelmingly suburban, often in places that have good public schools.

Shift To The Suburbs

In the past Asians, like other immigrants, tended to cluster in “gateway cities” and often in the densest urban neighborhoods, like New York’s Chinatown. Now the center of gravity has shifted to the suburbs. Between 2000 and 2012, the Asian population in suburban areas of the nation’s 52 biggest metro areas grew 66.2% while those in the core cities expanded by 34.9%. In 2000 three large cities ranked among the 20 most heavily Asian cities with populations over 50,000: Honolulu, San Francisco and San Jose. In 2012, only the Hawaiian capital made the grade (Hawaii is the only state with an Asian majority).

As of 2012, 18 of the 20 most heavily Asian communities were suburban, all but one of them are in California. Not surprisingly quite a few are the smaller cities of Silicon Valley, where Asians constitute roughly half of all tech employees. Cupertino, a city of 59,700 that is home to Apple’s headquarters, takes the title of the most Asian city in the U.S., with a population that was 65% Asian as of 2012, up from 45.9% in 2000. Other suburban cities around the Bay that are majority Asian include No. 2 Milpitas (64.5% Asian), Daley City, Sunnyvale, Fremont , Santa Clara and Union City. Of them, only Daley City and Milpitas were majority Asian in 2000.

Most of the other top California cities are clustered in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, including No. 3 Rosemead (62% Asian), No. 4 Monterey Park (61.1%), Arcadia, Alhambra and Diamond Bar. Many, like once solidly middle class Arcadia, are being “mansionized” by new immigrants into what some suggest is an Asian version of Beverly Hills. The other hot spot is Orange County, long seen as more a place for right-wing politics and surfers, which now has several cities in the top 20 of our list of the cities of the most Asian-dominated cities, including Westminster, Irvine and Garden Grove.

Shifts Beyond California

California has long been is the natural place for Asian immigrants to land, with 4.8 million currently residing in the state, almost the population of Singapore. New York, with 1.4 million Asians, ranks  second while Texas, with 964,000, ranks third. But Asian populations are increasing quickly in the Sun Belt. Texas’ Asian population increased by 71.5% from 2000 through 2010, adding a net 402,277, second most in the country over that span behind California’s  1.1 million gain. Texas is home to the only city outside California and Hawaii in the top 20 of our list of the most heavily Asian U.S. cities: the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, where 37.1% of the 82,000 residents are Asian. The area, not known as an immigrant hub in the past, now boasts the second largest Hindu temple in the country. In Plano, a suburb of Dallas, the Asian population rose 123% between 2000 and 2012 to 50,160, the highest growth rate in the nation among cities over 50,000 in population. It’s now 18.5% Asian.

A number of states in the Southeast posted fast growth from 2000-10. Florida’s Asian population increased 70.8% to 266,256, while Georgia’s rose 81.6% to 314,467.

Positioning For The Asian Century

One clear trend here is that Asian populations are growing in areas that are on the cutting edge of the economy — in tech centers like Silicon Valley, and near New York’s global service firms (across the river from Manhattan, Jersey City is now 25% Asian, and New Jersey’s Asian population expanded 51% in the first decade of the century to 480,270). Around the manufacturing and technology companies of the Detroit and Seattle areas, Asian communities are growing. Troy, Mich., the center of “automation alley,” has attracted a small but expanding Asian population, and in Washington, the Boeing-dominated town of Renton and Bellevue, near Microsoft, have taken on more of an Asian flavor in the past decade.The fact that many Asians are well-educated and ideally suited to these critical industries is likely to enhance this correlation over time, whether engineering cars or tech gear, or getting into the guts of the global transactional economy.

Asian growth is slower in areas less integrated into the emerging global economy, notably in places like small town Florida, the rural south and parts of the still hard-hit Rust Belt. These are generally not the hot-spots for Asian investment today. What these communities may want to consider in the future is how to enhancetheir attractiveness to Asians and Asian investors, who likely will play an ever-expanding role in shaping the country’s economic future.

No. 1: Cupertino, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 59,701

Percentage Asian: 65.1%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +71.9%

No. 2: Milpitas, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 44,226

Percentage Asian: 64.5%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +34.9%

No. 3: Rosemead, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 33,686

Percentage Asian: 62.0%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +29.9%

No. 4: Monterey Park, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 37,192 

Percentage Asian: 61.1%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +1.4%

No. 5: Arcadia, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 34,158 

Percentage Asian: 59.8%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +42.3%

No. 6: Daly City, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 60,137

Percentage Asian: 58.0%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +15%

No. 7: Honolulu, Hawaii

Overall Population, 2012: 186,940

Percentage Asian: 54.2%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +10.1%

No. 8: Diamond Bar, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 29,883

Percentage Asian: 53.2%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +25.3%

No. 9: Fremont, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 115,948

Percentage Asian: 52.4%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +55.1%

No. 10: Union City, Calif.

Overall Population, 2012: 36,374

Percentage Asian: 50.8%

Percentage Change In Asian Population Since 2000: +23.5%

This piece first appeared at Forbes.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.  He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Council to fill the unexpired term of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and has served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

Photo "asian american" by flicker user centinel.

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thanks post ,Asian

thanks post ,Asian populations are growing in areas that are on the cutting edge of the economy , very good

m88 | blog mezing

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