Tracking Changes in NYC’s Asian Populations

Bajeko Sekuwa is a new restaurant in Queens serving the growing Nepali community. (Photo via

The Nepali American population in New York City has been the fastest growing Asian population, data released by the Asian American Federation on Jan. 18 indicates.

The AAF released 2019 profiles for 12 Asian American communities in the city, noting that each category is for that category alone or in combination (for instance, Nepali alone or Nepali plus other nativity). The data also indicate the proportion of the community that is foreign-born – in the Nepali American community, it is 87 percent, the highest. The profiles are based on American Community Survey data comparing 2011-2015 population tables with 2006-2010 population tables. While this data is not newly available, AAF has collected and arranged the data in a readily accessible format, and comparisons of the profiles shed light on significant changes over time in the different Asian communities of NYC.

The Nepali population, while small at just under 7,000 as of the 2011-2015 period, grew 100 percent over the previous period. Bangladeshi Americans constitute the next fastest-growing population, having grown 88 percent. Their absolute numbers, however, are much higher at just over 66,197. And unlike the Nepali population, which had a percent living in poverty of 18.5 percent, the Bangladeshi population has a higher rate of poverty at 28.2 percent. The overall poverty rate for NYC is 21 percent. Filipino Americans had the lowest poverty rate, 9 percent.

By far the largest Asian population in NYC is the Chinese American, at 564,636, and the group’s growth rate from 2010 to 2015 was 15 percent (Note: Chinese alone or in combination excludes Taiwanese American, who are counted separately.) The only Asian populations which declined over the period were the Vietnamese American (-10 percent) and the Japanese American (-3 percent). About level were the Korean American (-0.2 percent) and Indian American (+0.2 percent) populations.

Limited English proficiency of the population older than 5 years was highest among Chinese Americans (60 percent) and lowest among Filipino Americans at 18 percent. The citywide limited English proficiency rate is 28 percent.

Which Asian group has the highest median household income? And which has the highest proportion living on Staten Island? For the answers to these questions and more, go to AAF’s 2019 profiles.

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