LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in California who are playing a more prominent role in the state's businesses and politics, a report said on Monday.
California's Asian American population, now nearly 5.6 million, or 15 percent of the state's population, grew 34 percent between 2000 and 2010. The state's Latino population grew 28 percent, while its White population decreased 5 percent over the same decade, said a report released by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and Asian Law Caucus (ALC).
On the economic side, Asian Americans owned more than half a million businesses statewide in 2007, employing about 910,000 people and dispensing more in payroll than businesses owned by any other racial group except for Whites.
The group also showed increased citizenship, with voter registration in the state up 51 percent between 2000 and 2008, a growth rate second only to Latinos, the report said.
Meanwhile, Asian Americans in California also face issues such as immigration, poverty and healthcare.
Roughly 416,000 Asian Americans living in California are undocumented, 15 percent of the state's undocumented residents, the report said.
Unemployed Asian Americans in the state grew 196 percent from 2006 to 2010, the highest of any racial group statewide, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. Asian Americans living below the poverty line statewide increased 50 percent over a similar period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"As the state legislature begins to tackle a new policy agenda, safety net programs remain critical to those in our community who are trying to get back on their feet." said Hyeon-Ju Rho, executive director of ALC in San Francisco.
Healthcare is another critical issue. Approximately 14 percent of Asian Americans in California do not have health insurance, higher than the 10-percent rate for Whites.
"We hope the report promotes a better understanding of our growing and diverse communities," said Joanna Lee, senior research analyst at APALC.
"California can't craft good public policy on Asian Americans and NHPI without good data," Lee added.
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