By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Asians in the United States are growing in numbers … fast.
According to the recent census data, the Asian population in Washington state grew by 49.2 percent in the last decade. The Hispanic population grew by an astonishing 71 percent.
There are several important reasons why the census survey is conducted every decade. The 2010 data will be used to determine how more than $3 trillion in federal funds will be allocated to local, state, and tribal governments in the next 10 years. The data will also guide local decision-makers in community planning efforts, including where to build new roads, hospitals, and schools. The data will also determine how many seats Washington state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Asians make up 7.6 percent (5.5 percent in 2000) of Washington state’s population, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders make up 0.6 percent. The native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander population rose by 69 percent.
Ralph Lee, regional census director, said that Washington state gained a 10th congressional seat, which would mean more representation in Congress. He also said that Washington state is only one of eight states that gained an extra seat. A few states, like Texas, gained several seats.
Lee said that the most significant change from the previous census is that there was a large increase in the Asian and Hispanic populations throughout Washington.
Seattle’s Asian population is now at 13.8 percent, relatively steady since 2000.
The difference is in the cities surrounding Seattle, such as Renton, Tukwila, and Kent, all of which saw spikes in minority populations. The data also show that cities on the Eastside, such as Bellevue, Sammamish, and Redmond, have had at least a 10 percent change in the Asian population since 2000. According to recent data, people of Asian descent made up 27.6 percent of the population in Bellevue in 2010. In 2000, the number was 17.4 percent.
This may be due to the increased hiring of Asians at prominent technology and software companies in the area.
On its website, Microsoft explains the reasoning for its commitment to diversity hiring practices.
“Economically, the diverse markets represent a growing source of market consumption and buying power. They are an important customer group for Microsoft. Worldwide, diverse populations account for 44 percent of world GDP. Within the United States, diverse populations generate over $9 trillion dollars in buying power.”
“The collaborative energy that is created when talented people from different backgrounds come together to focus on innovation has helped fuel Microsoft’s success for more than 30 years,” said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Microsoft’s website.
The Seattle Times reports that 68 percent of Asians who are employed in Bellevue work in management or professional occupations, compared with 60 percent of employed whites and 21 percent of employed Hispanics. About half of the employed Hispanics work in the service industry, according to a city survey from a few years ago.
“The minorities are [becoming] the majority population now, and that is fueled by the large increase of the Asian and Hispanic groups,” Lee said.
He attributed the gains primarily to in-migration and also to the fact that these groups have more births and deaths overall.
“I do see a pattern of change and believe that over the course of a decade, we will see a further increase,” Lee said.
Lee added that he has seen ethnic businesses, restaurants, and stores becoming more numerous to serve certain populations in the Greater Seattle region.
There was 77 percent growth in the Asian population in Bellevue, compared to 14 percent growth in Seattle. Everett saw 39 percent growth in the Asian population.
Another interesting fact is that 12 percent of the state’s population is foreign-born. King County’s foreign-born population is 19 percent, Yakima County’s is 17 percent, and Snohomish County’s is 13 percent.
There were 10 basic questions on the census survey last year. Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau is conducting the American Community Survey (ACS), which is essentially a longer form of the survey.
The ACS has been conducted since 2005, and it takes a sample of households, tabulates data, and then releases the information much later with current information. Lee said that the ACS data are released every year for larger areas and every three to five years for areas with smaller populations.
Lee also said that more detailed data that will break down the racial group numbers will be released in the beginning of May. ♦
Nina Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.