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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, dedicated to the celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. In 1978, the first 10 days of May were selected to honor Asian/Pacific American history; in 1992, Congress expanded the observance to the entire month of May.
According to the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website, May was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese immigrating to the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and to recognize the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion on May 10, 1869. Chinese immigrants comprised the majority of the workers who laid the railroad’s tracks.
As part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Facts for Features (FFF), they highlighted the following statistics.
- 22.2 million is the estimated number of Asian alone or in combination residents in the U.S. in 2017
- 5.0 million of the Asian population was of Chinese descent in the United States in 2017, comprising the largest group, followed by Asian Indian, at 4.4 million; Filipino, at 4 million; Vietnamese, at 2.1 million; Korean, at 1.9 million; and Japanese, at 1.5 million
- 2.4 percent of Asian were military veterans in 2017
- 53 percent of the Asian population ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2017
- 87.5 percent of the Asian population years 25 and older had at least a high diploma or its equivalent in 2017
- There was an estimated 555,262 Asian-owned employer firms in the U.S. in 2016
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders
- 1..6 million was the estimated number of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination residents of the United States in 2017
- There were 614,571 Native Hawaiian residents of the U.S. in 2017, followed by 202,268 Samoans, and 156,482 of Guamanians or Chamorros.
- 7.1 percent of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders were military veterans in 2017
- 23.3 percent of those age 25 and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2017
- 89.4 percent of those age 25 and older had at least a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2017
- There was an estimated 5,157 Native Hawaiin and other Pacific Islander-owned employer firms in the U.S. in 2016.
To learn about events taking place as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2019, please visit the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website.