Monday, November 07, 2011

Pacific Islander America: California (1 of 4)

A number of this summer's stories about Pacific Islander Americans happened in California. And for good reason: California has long-since been home to one of the largest Pacific Islander populations of any State of the Union. In fact, preliminary Census data suggests that California may now have the largest Pacific Islander population in the country.

More Pacific Islander in California than Hawaii?
As the only U.S. State in the Pacific Islands, Hawaii is a natural place for a strong and vibrant Pacific Islander community. But 2010 Census data suggests that California may now have more Pacific Islanders.

Earlier this year, San Francisco Chronicle's Hawaii Insider columnist Jeanne Cooper penned a story referencing 2010 Census data. She wrote, correctly, that the number of "single-race" (individuals who only identify as one race on their Census form) Pacific Islanders in California is now larger than it is in Hawaii.

This is representative of the growth of the Pacific Islander population across America, especially in the continental United States. For California in particular, a growing Pacific Islander community is nothing new -- Pacific Islanders have been immigrating to California since the 19th Century. At the same time, it's important to remember that most Pacific Islanders don't show up in the "single-race" category of the Census, because they report belonging to more than one race.

When we see the Census's full state-by-state data that includes multiracial Pacific Islanders, we'll know if California has indeed overtaken Hawaii as the state with America's largest Pacific Islander community. (Let us know if you see this data before we do!)

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