ORLANDO, Fla. – Asian American households saw the biggest income growth of any racial or ethnic group in the United States over the past decade and a half — almost 8%, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Household income for Latinos grew by nearly 6% over that time, while households led by non-Hispanic whites and Blacks had comparatively stagnant income growth — 3% and almost 2% respectively — over the past decade and a half.
Nationwide, median household income grew 2.3% from the 2005-2009 period to the 2015-2019 period, according to the latest 5-year American Community Survey.
Economists said a lot of the difference in income growth among racial and ethnic groups has to do with the thriving job markets where Asian American and Latino-led households are concentrated — cities and communities in the West and Southwest.
“As the labor market tightened more in certain areas and in certain fields we would see more robust income growth for those groups," Ohio State economist Trevon Logan said in an email. “Also, higher concentration in urban areas with larger job growth and increases in minimum wage can also play a role in income gains."
While income growth has been comparatively flat in a vast majority of U.S. counties, it has been concentrated in a handful of communities, said William Spriggs, an economist at Howard University.
“So, I suspect recent Asian and Latino immigration has been to these high growth areas," Spriggs said.
Education also played an important role, said Marlene Kim, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Boston. More than 54% of Asian Americans had a bachelor's degree, the highest of any racial or ethnic group, compared to 32% overall for U.S. residents, according to the 2015-2019 American Community Survey.