While many try to turn the focus this election season to job creation, the Asian-American community, often overlooked when parsing through unemployment data, is trying to find solutions to its own struggle with joblessness. Washington bureau reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.
A study released by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C. highlights a anomaly in the Asian-American community that has been largely overlooked.
50 percent of unemployed Asian-Americans are unemployed long term, the largest share of any ethnic group.
“Once Asian workers become unemployed, they seem to face significant difficulties finding employment,” said Dr. Algernon Austin, the race, ethnicity and economy program director at the Economic Policy Institute.
Still, when you look at general unemployment figures, Asian-Americans are doing pretty well.
“What this is telling you in a sense is that Asian-Americans are entering into unemployment at a slower rate,” said U.S. Labor Department Chief Economist Adriana Kugler. “On the other hand, their outflow out of unemployment is slower.”
“Even if you’re a U.S.-born Asian person, the assumption is that you’re foreign, that you’re not really American,” he said. “And therefore, if employers have biases against people that are not American, then Asian-Americans can be affected.”
New York’s Asian-American Legal and Education Defense Fund deals closely with those in the community struggling with joblessness.
“There needs to be additional emphasis placed on increasing racial diversity to include Asian applicants for positions and also creating sustainable jobs for those with college graduate degrees,” said Shirley Lin, a staff attorney of the fund.
Asian-Americans are among the most highly educated ethnic groups, which factors into these findings.
“Maybe they’re less willing to accept certain types of jobs precisely because they’re more educated,” Kugler said.
Lin says the Asian community needs to be a more prominent part of lawmakers’ plan to put Americans back to work.