East Meets West

The 10 cities with the highest concentration of Asian-Americans, generally considered the most affluent of ethnic groups.

The 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas with the largest Asian-American populations

This story first appeared in the July 31, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With their high incomes, Asian-Americans are the darlings of diversity-minded fashion firms. Asian-Americans are generally thought to be the most affluent of ethnic groups. They have an estimated buying power of $253 billion annually, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia in Athens. One-third of Asians earn $75,000 or more per year. No wonder the fashion industry has set its sights on this fast-growing market.

Asian population:
1.2 million; Total population: 9.69 million
Asian-Americans in Southern California outpaced every other ethnic group in terms of population growth during the Nineties. According to the 2000 census, most of the increases have taken place in the suburbs. California’s Asian-American population grew 38 percent in the last decade, surpassing the growth rate of the city’s Latino population, which is 35 percent. In the last decade, Los Angeles’ Asian population grew from 10 percent to 12 percent.

Asian population:
869,186; Total population: 9.39 million
According to the 2000 census, the Asian population in New York has grown 54 percent in 10 years. Today one in 10 New Yorkers are Asian. Queens has become a magnet for the group, which includes Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese and Vietnamese immigrants; the borough’s Asian-American population has swelled to 17.6 percent. Most tend to hold high tech or factory jobs.

Asian population:
483,256;Total population: 885,226
Asians account for more than half of Honolulu’s population, but the area’s economy also depends on tourists from the Far East, particularly Japan. Not surprisingly, businesses have suffered since the outbreak of SARS, which originated in Asia.

Asian population:
453,839;Total population: 1.17 million
In Silicon Valley, the computer and Internet industries are dominated by math-literate workers from India, Taiwan and China. The 2000 census showed that 36 percent of the Asian-born workers were employed in managerial or professional specialty jobs, compared with 30 percent of American-born workers and 24 percent of all foreign-born workers.

Asian population:
429,136; Total population: 2.45 million
Oakland has been attracting Asian-Americans with its big-city benefits in a small city environment. The area’s Asian-American population now stands at 17.5 percent in a city of great ethnic diversity. Its Chinatown, which bustles with markets, shops and restaurants, forms the heart of the group’s cultural life.

Asian population:
415,663; Total population: 2.94 million
Orange County has traditionally been one of California’s whitest, most affluent and most conservative counties. However, Asians have been the fastest-growing segment of the population with a 65 percent growth rate between 1990 and 2000. The largest Vietnamese population of any metropolitan area can be found in Orange County.

Asian population:
415,355; Total population: 1.75 million
San Francisco has the fourth-highest percentage of Asian Americans at 23.7 percent. Rising housing costs have driven many people away, but at the highest end of the income scale there’s still a lot of money, which is keeping prices high. While San Francisco’s dot-com bubble-burst was more painful than that of other cities, biotechnology has been cited as a growth area.

Asian population:
394,580; Total population: 8.4 million
Chinese immigrants arrived in Chicago in the 1870s and worked on the transcontinental railroad. Chicago now has the third-largest Korean community in the U.S. The city’s modern South Chinatown consists of eight vibrant and overcrowded blocks, like similar enclaves in other cities.

Asian population:
346,335; Total population: 5.07 million
The Washington, D.C. metropolitan statistical area includes Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. While Asian Americans have infiltrated the suburbs surrounding the nation’s capital, a 2002 study by the Fannie Mae Foundation and the Urban Institute, showed that despite the city’s growing diversity, Hispanics and Asians have become increasingly segregated from whites.

Asian population:
274,054; Total population: 2.89 million
Between 1992 and 2002 San Diego’s Asian-American population rose by 44 percent. The area’s emerging clout in the biotech field has drawn young Asian-Americans. At the University of California, San Diego, a strong bioengineering school, Asian enrollment doubled between 1991 and 2002. Asians continue to be attracted by the area’s temperate climate, ensuring continued growth.