Asian immigrants have the highest and fastest-growing poverty rates in New York City, with close to one-third of them living in poverty as of 2012, according to a new report.
The CEO Poverty Measure report by the Office of the Mayor gives overall poverty rates from 2005 to 2012 and focuses on the years since the start of the financial recession in 2008. The city’s poverty rate rose to 21.4 percent in 2012 from 19 percent in 2008, with the borough of Queens seeing the biggest increase in poverty, 21.9 percent in 2012 from 16.4 percent in 2008, the report shows.
Half of Asian New Yorkers live in Queens, and 29 percent of Asians in the city live in poverty as of 2012, compared to the 25.7 percent of Hispanics and 22.5 percent of blacks who do. The poverty rates for Asians increased the most between 2008 and 2012, showed the report released at the end of April, with much of it due to language barriers and non-immigrant citizens who have no access to the city’s welfare system.
Increases in poverty were “particularly pronounced” for Asians and non-citizens, two groups that share considerable overlap, the report said.
The Asian population in Queens is growing dramatically – the 2010 census showed that it had increased 30 percent in the last decade – and many Asian immigrants often find job opportunities for low-skill, low-paying jobs in Queens.
The statistics often give the impression that the Asian community is doing really well, when in reality the Asian community often doesn’t have access to social-service agencies, most of which are often poorly funded.
Asian households have the highest median income in the US – more than $68,000 in 2012 dollars, according to the US Census Bureau – and are the second-highest income earners in New York City after non-Hispanic whites, based on a report released by the City University of New York. But that neglects the “pockets of poverty” that exist within the Asian community within New York City, said Shih.
There are also more visible signs of poverty within the Queens community, particularly with Asian seniors, said Douglas Nam Le, policy director at Asian Americans for Equality, an advocacy group.
Particularly among Asian immigrants in Queens who are poor, there is a high rate of poverty among seniors who are immigrants, those who haven’t been in the United States long enough to receive Social Security benefits that other seniors depend on.