Asian American unemployment rises according to study

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

The United States Department of Labor provides some disturbing data on Asian American unemployment among young people.  In its recent release, which covers July 2007 through 2010, the number of Asian-Americans between the ages of 16-24 years old unable to find work has grown since 2007.  

The unemployment rates for young Asian Americans have grown from slightly over 6% in 2007 to 21.6% in July 2010.  Blacks (33.4%) and Latinos (22.1%) had higher unemployment rates in July 2010, but in general Asians are more likely to have a college degree than Blacks, Hispanics or Whites.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian American college graduates are more likely than white college graduates to be unemployed and that is also true for those with some college.  In contrast, Asian-Americans who are high school graduates and those who are high school drop-outs are less likely than their whites to be unemployed.  Although not necessarily surprising, the highest rate of unemployment of Asian Americans between the ages of 16-24 are those that have dropped out of high school.

The statistics also show that rates of unemployment for adult Asian American men and adult Asian-American women were similar in 2007-2008 but as the recession continued, Asian- American men found it harder to find a job.

Another key note from the numbers is that Asian American teens defined as ages 16-19 have much higher unemployment rates than do adults.  This may be due in part to teens in school and being less likely to either work or look for a job.  In fact, the data suggests that Asian Americans ages 20 to 24 have decided to stay in school and not look for a job.

The highest unemployment rates per state were dependent on where the largest numbers of Asian Americans reside.

Overall in 2010, California had the most unemployed Asian Americans with 222,000 followed by New York at 34,000.  Washington State had 22,000 unemployed Asian-Americans which equated to a 7.9% unemployment rate per the 2010 average.

People of Asian Indian descent were the most likely to be employed and people of Japanese descent were least likely to work according to the 2010 numbers from the Department of Labor.

An alternative to seeking a job was self-employment.  According to the most recent Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners from 2007, the number of Asian-owned businesses expanded at a rate (40.4 percent) that more than doubles the national average between 2002 and 2007.  In 2010, 6.3 percent of Asians were self-employed.

The latest statistics reflect the fallout after the nationwide economic recession.  Young Asian-American job-seekers are still trying to cope with the economy.  As a result, many young Asian-Americans are returning home to their parents for financial assistance.  Thus, their families are also feeling the economic strain of youth unemployment.  While the economic strain is felt on the young job-seekers, it is also felt by the family as they stretch out their earnings to accommodate those that continue to seek out work.  The other issue is that Asian-American college graduates that return home also bring home debt burden from school loans. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at

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