Asian community is an economic force to be reckoned with in the South

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the South is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Let’s look at the Houston area with new data from the Asian Americans Advancing Justice report “A Community of Contrasts.” Asian-American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) owned businesses are creating jobs for Americans throughout the South.

Because of the diverse Asian population, it is important to share this information.

Large presence in Houston

Nearly 490,000 Asian-Americans and over 10,000 NHPIs live in the Houston MSA. They are the fastest growing racial groups in the Houston MSA, increasing 71 percent and 70 percent respectively between 2000 and 2010.

More than 260,000 Asian-Americans and over 1,200 NHPIs are immigrants in the Houston MSA. Over two-thirds are foreign born, and 1 in 5 NHPIs are foreign born.
Among Asian-American ethnic groups: Taiwanese (80 percent), Indian (72 percent), Chinese (69 percent) and Pakistan Americans (69 percent) are proportionately foreign born. Japanese Americans are the only Asian-American ethnic group that is majority native-born as 53 percent were born in the U.S.

According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, Asian-American and NHPI buying power in Texas is over $34 billion.

There are nearly 49,000 Asian-American-owned businesses and 390 NHPI businesses in the Houston MSA that employ over 78,000 people and distribute over $2 billion in annual payroll.

Top industries for Asian-American-owned businesses are retail trade and professional, scientific and technical services.

Among Asian-American ethnic groups, Vietnamese own the largest number of businesses (17,000), followed by Indian (11,000) and Chinese Americans (9,000).

Diversity in language
Over 320,000 people living in the Houston MSA speak an Asian or Pacific Island language. The top five languages spoken at home are: Vietnamese, Chinese, Urdu, Tagalog and Hindi.
More than four out of five Asian-Americans speak a language other than English at home — the same rate as Latinos. The vast majority — Taiwanese (91 percent), Vietnamese (90 percent) and Pakistani Americans (88 percent) — speak a language other than English at home.

Nearly 130,000 Asian-Americans are Limited English Proficient (LEP), representing a growth of 39 percent since 2000.

About 35 percent of Asian-Americans are LEP in the Houston MSA. Vietnamese Americans have the largest number of LEP individuals (50,000).Chinese (29,000) and Indian Americans (17,000) have the next largest LEP populations. Over a quarter (27 percent) of Vietnamese American youth are LEP.

As we hear more about globalization, understanding the diversity of our Asian-American and NHPI residents will help businesses focus strategically on doing business with this demographic.

Policymakers, government agencies, funders and banking/financial organizations can be supportive with language-appropriate training programs and services for Asian-American and NHPI business owners.

The Asian community is an economic force and brings unique ways of presenting ideas and solutions. To realize the full potential of this multicultural talent, organizations can intensify their efforts and include Asians on their leadership team. ●