Friday, December 20, 2013

Asian Americans at Work and in Employment: Challenges and Gains

Over the last several months, the Department of Labor has released a series of reports looking at the workforce picture for different populations. The latest in this series, entitled The Asian-American Labor Force in the Recovery

As the report highlights, Asian Americans are a diverse and growing share of the U.S. labor force. As a group, the Asian American community has often experienced better labor market outcomes than other races and ethnicities. Asians in the labor force are substantially more likely to have college degrees than whites, blacks or Hispanics. They had lower unemployment rates and higher median weekly earnings in 2010 ($855) than workers of other races and ethnicities.

Yet, Asian-Americans suffer the highest rates of long-term unemployment of any group in the United States, according to a recent study issued by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
At the same time, the latest data show that more than half of unemployed Asian-Americans have been without work for longer than six months. That was up from 48.7 percent in 2010, according to Voice of America. In the second quarter of this year, a greater percentage of Asian-Americans remained unemployed for the long term than any other major minority group — including blacks and Hispanics, according to National Public Radio.
That's despite the fact that a higher percentage of the Asian-American population is college educated.
Read more here

In 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that “This community has been facing a number of misperceptions or stereotypes, ranging from ‘hard-working’ to ‘anti-social’. While some of these stereotypes have positive characteristics, they have become the framework of barriers establishing glass or bamboo ceilings which present [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] from moving into the upper tiers of an organization.”

On the other hand, there are some positive highlights.
Asian-Americans make up half of the Bay Area's technology workforce, and their double-digit employment gains came from jobs lost among white tech workers, according to an analysis by this newspaper of Census Bureau data released Thursday.
The dramatic shift in the changing composition of the high-tech workforce represents a new generation of homegrown and imported workers drilled in science, technology, engineering and math studies.

The influx of Asians in fashion is hard to ignore. In recent years, the fashion industry -- once dominated by too-cool Europeans like Miuccia Prada and Karl Lagerfeld -- has been invigorated by a new crop of young designers, many of them Asian: Doo.Ri, Derek Lam, Thakoon Panichgul, Jason Wu, Phillip Lim and Richard Chai, to name a few. "There is this understanding that there is this group of Asian-American designers who are coming up in the world, and there is a sense of pride," Lam told the New York Times in 2010, in an article aptly entitled "Asian-Americans Climb Fashion Industry Ladder." Parents who may have wanted a more traditional career path for their children appear swayed by the rampant success of fashion stars like Alexander Wang, who, at the age of 28, was named the creative director of Balenciaga.

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