Asians fastest-growing demo in NC

Charlotte Asian Festival's Dragon Boat race. COURTESY OF ANDREA LEE

Charlotte Asian Festival’s Dragon Boat race. COURTESY OF ANDREA LEE

March 10. Amid the demographic shifts transforming North Carolina and its electorate, one has been widely overlooked — the rise of Asian Americans. This, according to the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham.

The Asian-American population in North Carolina, though relatively small, has become the fastest growing racial and ethnic demographic in the state, according to new research released by several Asian-American and civic engagement-focused groups.

The “Asian Americans in North Carolina” report notes that between 2000 and 2010, the Asian-American population in the state grew 85 percent, the third-fastest rate in the country. Since 2010, Asian Americans have been the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group within the state.

The Charlotte Asian Festival May 14 at Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius is the highlight of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in North Carolina. Complete with traditional Asian food, cultural exhibits, stage performances and even dragon boat races, it is organized by the Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce.

According to the US Census Bureau, Mecklenburg Counthy’s Asian population climbed from 4.6 percent in 2010, to 5.5 percent in 2014. The increase was more dramatic in Cabarrus County, where the Asian population grew from 2 percent of total residents to 2.8 percent. And it’s still climbing.

“The growth of North Carolina’s Asian-American population has often gone under the radar, but these numbers demonstrate that this community is an important part of the increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the state,” said Allie Yee, a researcher at the Institute, and an author of the report.

Among the key characteristics of the Asian-American population in North Carolina:

+Diversity: Over 20 ethnicities, countries of origin and languages are represented in the state’s Asian-American community.

++Relatively high citizenship rates: Although nearly 60 percent of Asian-American residents were born abroad, the citizenship rate is about 70 percent. Rates vary by ethnicity and country of origin.

Low voter registration rates: About 100,000 Asian Americans are registered to vote, reflecting ony 58 percent of eligible Asian-American voters. By comparison, 70 percent of all eligible voters in the state are registered.

+As North Carolina prepares for its March 15 presidential primary, voting among Asian Americans is a major focus of advocates for the community.

“As our communities grow, we must ensure everyone has a voice in our political process,” said Cat Bao Le, executive director of the Charlotte-based Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC).

SEAC is among the groups releasing the report, and it is coordinating with North Carolina’s Asian Americans Together to run nonpartisan get-out-the-vote phone banking events in Charlotte and Raleigh to encourage Asian-American voters to cast their ballot in next Tuesday’s primary.


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