AUSTIN (KXAN) - For the first time, the influx of Asians moving to the U.S. has surpassed that of Hispanics -- reflecting a slowdown in illegal immigration while American employers increase their demand for high-skilled workers.
A 120-page report published in April by the University of Texas-Austin's Center for Asian American Studies examined the impact that Asians living in four different regions of the state have had in Texas.
The report, titled "Contribution of Asian Businesses and Asian Citizens to the Economy of Texas," looks at demographic and economic data for Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.
The UT Center for Asian American Studies was founded in 2000 as an interdisciplinary academic program to promote understanding and awareness of Asian Pacific American issues and communities.
The UT report says, "No state more than Texas takes pride in its heritage, and Asian Texans, through their collective and individual actions, have helped to make Texas what it is today."
It says that Texas is home to one of the nation's largest South Asian American populations.
Specific to Austin-Travis County and Williamson County, the median age of the total Asian population is younger than age 40, according to the report. The greatest part of both counties' Asian population is between 25 and 34 years old.
More than 68 percent of those age 25 or older who live in Travis County have at least a bachelor's degree, while in Williamson County, nearly 63 percent of those in the same age group have college degrees.
The median income of Asian American families living in Williamson County is $101,990 compared to $84,491 for such families living in Travis County. According to the report, considering income per capita, Asian individuals make on average $32,387 in Williamson County -- 14.8 percent more per capita for total population -- and in Travis County, $32,644, which is 2.8 percent more than total population per capita.
As for housing choices, the report states that most Asian householders living in Travis County prefer homes built in 2000 or later. In addition, the reports says that no individuals -- 0 percent -- use public transportation, this compared to 5.9 percent of Asians who live in Travis County who do.
Concerning employment, the report shows that compared to the total population, 66.1 percent of civilian employed Asians are involved in management, professional or related occupations, with families' median income 36.6 percent higher than the median income for all Austin families.
Asian homeowners tend to buy houses more expensive than the average homeowner in Austin, a difference of 25.1 percent, while Asian renters pay a slightly lower rent than average. On average, 60.6 percent of Asian renters pay less than 30 percent of their gross income on gross rent as compared to 51.7 percent for the total Austin population.
Pew Research Center study
On a larger scale, the Associated Press reported Tuesday on a new study by the Pew Research Center which said the tipping point for Asian immigrants likely occurred during 2009 as illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico sharply declined due to increased immigration enforcement and a dwindling supply of low-wage work in the weak U.S. economy. Many Mexicans already in the U.S. have also been heading back to their country, putting recent net migration at a standstill.
As recently as 2007, about 390,000 of new immigrants to the U.S. were Asian, compared to 540,000 who were Hispanic.
The shift to increased Asian immigration, particularly of people from India, China and South Korea, coincides with changes in U.S. immigration policy dating to the 1990s that began to favor wealthy and educated workers. The policy, still in place but subject to caps that have created waiting lists, fast-tracks visas for foreigners willing to invest at least half a million dollars in U.S. businesses or for workers in high-tech and other specialized fields who have at least a bachelor's degree.
International students studying at U.S. colleges and universities also are now most likely to come from Asian countries, roughly 6 in 10, and some of them are able to live and work in the U.S. after graduation. Asian students, both foreign born and U.S. born, earned a plurality -- 45 percent -- of all engineering Ph.D.s in 2010, as well as 38 percent of doctorates in math and computer sciences and 33 percent of doctorates in the physical sciences.
Several bills pending in Congress that are backed by U.S. businesses seek to address some of the visa backlogs, through measures such as eliminating per-country limits on employment-based visas or encouraging investment in the sluggish U.S. real estate market. They have stalled amid broader public debate over immigration reform that has focused largely on lower-skilled, undocumented workers.
In recent years, more than 60 percent of Asian immigrants ages 25 to 64 have graduated from college, double the share for new arrivals from other continents.
As a whole, the share of higher-skilled
immigrants in the U.S. holding at least a bachelor's degree now outpaces those lacking a high-school diploma, 30 percent to 28 percent.
"Like immigrants throughout American history, the new arrivals from Asia are strivers," said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center and co-author of the report. "What's distinctive about them is their educational credentials. These aren't the tired, poor, huddled masses of Emma Lazarus's famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty. They are the highly skilled workforce of the 21st century."
The findings are part of Pew's broad portrait of Asian-Americans, immigrants or U.S.-born children of immigrants who come mostly from China, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Now tied with Hispanics as the fastest-growing U.S. group, the nation's 14.5 million Asian-Americans are slowly becoming visible as founders of startups in Silicon Valley, owners of ethnic eateries, grocery stores and other small businesses in cities across the U.S., as well as candidates for political office and a key bloc of voters in states such as California, Nevada and Virginia, according to experts.
Projected to make up 1-in-10 residents by midcentury, Asian-Americans as a whole tend to be more satisfied than the general public with their lives and the direction of the country. They lean Democratic, prefer a big government that provides more services, and place more value on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success.