One-third of Asians in NYC below the poverty line.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: A new report, conducted and released by New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), reveals that Asian Americans have surpassed Hispanic Americans as the city’s poorest minority group.
According to the report, between 2008 and 2012 (the most recent year of available data for the study), the percentage of Asian Americans living in poverty in New York City overtook that of Hispanic Americans. While both groups were even at about 23% in 2008, Hispanics are now at under 26% rate of poverty – Asian-origin people, however, are at 29%, meaning nearly one-third of the city’s Asian population lives in squalor.
The report says that the language barrier for Asian immigrants has been a significant reason for their poverty rate going up.
“Nearly half of all working-age Asian immigrants in the City are LEP [Limited English Proficiency], and three out of every four Asian seniors are in the same category,” says a memo accompanying the report, written by Mindy Tarlow, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations.
“Community monitoring of existing language access laws and policies in New York City show that speakers of Korean and South Asian languages suffer particularly poor language access at key City agencies. As a result, Asian communities are unable to access vital City services that can help them prevent or rise out of poverty.”
The non-Hispanic Asian population of New York City is dispersed among the five boroughs as follows: 50.2% reside in Queens, 25.6% in Brooklyn, 16.4% in Manhattan, 4.5% in the Bronx, and 3.2% in Staten Island, says the report. It also says that 32.9% of New York City’s Asian-origin population falls into the “non-citizen category.”
Overall poverty in New York City increased as well, rising from 19% in 2008 to 21.4% in 2012. In 2011, about 46% of all New Yorkers were earning less than 1.5 times the city’s poverty threshold, although the number of people living in “extreme poverty,” which is defined as no more than half the threshold, as decreased over the years.
The report singles out the economic recession of 2008 as being a key contributor to the poverty increase, as it led to significant job cuts. Fewer jobs mean less money earned, and consequently, less money spent. The aforementioned memo says that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is taking steps to curb the growth of poverty in the city.
“The de Blasio Administration, with significant [City] Council support, has already taken dramatic steps towards addressing the issues raised in this report including adding paid sick days for hundreds of thousands of additional working New Yorkers, increasing the number of jobs paying a living wage, and prioritizing the development of a municipal identification that will increase access to basic services for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status,” says the memo.
The non-Hispanic white poverty rate was 14% in 2012, while non-Hispanic blacks were at 22.5% rate of poverty. The former group experience no change between 2008 and 2012, according to the report, while blacks/African-Americans experienced an increase of about 1.7%. Asians, however, led by quite a bit, with a 6.6% increase in poverty to put the demographic at the head of the pack.