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While the Asian presence in this country was once symbolized by Chinatowns
in major cities, the 2000 Census reveals that there are now as many as five
distinct Asian national-origin groups with more than a million residents. And
whereas Asians have often been thought of uniformly as a single “model
minority,” it is time to recognize the very large differences that exist between
the Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, and other major Asian groups.
In the last decade the total Asian population increased from 6.9 million to
11.9 million.1 The Asian share of the total population rose from 2.8% to 4.2%,
still much smaller than the country’s African-American or Hispanic minorities,
but a much more considerable presence today than in the past, and very
prominent in some states and metro areas.
The Chinese remain the largest single national-origin group, now about 2.4
million and nearly a quarter of the Asian total.2 Next in line are Filipinos at
1.85 million (an 18% share), and Asian Indians at 1.7 million. Asian Indians,
the largest Asian group in Michigan, are the fastest growing group in the
United States—more than doubling during the decade, and moving from fifth
to third largest.