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In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration. Per a 1997 Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

apaIn 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration. Per a 1997 Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month honors the achievements of American ethnic groups with roots in Asia and the Pacific Islands and recognizes their contributions to the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau lists more than 25 such groups. As Americans, they contribute to the strength of the United States, help shape its future and share in its promise and opportunity. The 2011 National Asian Pacific American Heritage month celebrates "Leadership, Diversity, Empowerment and Beyond".

According to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were an estimated 16 million U.S. residents of Asian descent in July 2009. Also, the percentage growth of the Asian population between 2008 and 2009 was 2.6 percent, making Asians the second fastest-growing minority group (following the Hispanic population). Both of these statistics include those who said they were both Asian alone or Asian in combination with one or more other races. 

All in all, 48 percent of Asians turned out to vote in 2008 — up 4 percentage points from 2004. A total of 3.4 million Asians voted.

 The 2009 American Community Survey found that there were 3.8 million Asians of Chinese descent in the U.S. in 2009. Chinese-Americans were the largest Asian group, followed by Filipinos (3.2 million), Asian Indians (2.8 million), Vietnamese (1.7 million), Koreans (1.6 million) and Japanese (1.3 million). The Survey also found that 2.6 million people 5 and older spoke Chinese at home in 2009. After Spanish, Chinese was the most widely spoken non-English language in the country. Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean were each spoken at home by more than 1 million people.

The Survey of Business Owners found that 1.6 million businesses were owned by Asian-Americans in 2007, an increase of 40.7 percent from 2002. Businesses owned by Asian Americans had total receipts of US$514 billion in 2007, up 57.3 percent from 2002. 

Throughout May, there will be many ways to celebrate APA heritage, the strength of Asian Americans and the many contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders to their local communities and the United States.

Sources: Population estimates http://www.census.gov/popest/estimates.html, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008 http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/voting/cb09-110.html, 2009 American Community Survey http://factfinder.census.gov, Survey of Business Owners, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/economic_census/cb10-107.html

 

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