Asians the Fastest-Growing Population in Nebraska


July 7th, 2015


Minority-Population-Growth-There’s an aspect of Nebraska’s population that’s growing quickly, and who this is will surprise you. It’s revealed in new U.S. Census Bureau information concerning the state’s racial and ethnic population growth.



MIKE TOBIAS, NET NEWS: David Drozd spends a lot time digging into U.S. Census information as research coordinator for the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research. Lately he’s been looking into new data on racial and ethnic population growth since the 2010 Census. Data that shows Asian and Pacific Islanders as Nebraska’s fastest growing group. Talk about this.

DAVID DROZD, UNO CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH: We have the new numbers that have just come out and they go from 2010 to 2014.They show more growth, as far as a rate would be concerned, among the Asian population than our Hispanic/Latino population. That’s, you know, in everybody’s perception the group that’s growing the fastest because Hispanics grew at the highest rate in both the 1990s and the full 2000s decade. But here so far in the 2010s, it’s been a bit of a reversal. The growth rate for Hispanic/Latino has slowed and we’ve seen an acceleration in the growth rate of Asians. So combining those two together, now Asians are the fastest growing group.

TOBIAS: So where is this growth coming from and do you have any thoughts about what’s driving it?

DROZD: We get some information that are pretty hard numbers on births and deaths by race, and we do know that Asians are increasing in Nebraska about 600 or 700 per year on average here recently, and the Census growth numbers are showing growth of about 1800 Asian persons per year. So we know that there’s definitely in migration to the area also. Whether it’s from other states across the United States or from international directly.

TOBIAS: At least on a national level, China and India have passed Mexico as the top sending countries for immigrants to the United States. Is this also the case or close to the case in Nebraska?

DROZD: That’s harder to say. The Census put out that nationally we have seen more new arrivals from both China and India, and numbers from Mexico have really come down since about 2005 or so. So now the Asian country destinations are exceeding those from Mexico. For Nebraska specifically, it’s harder to track those international movements, so it could be about the same. My guess is that we definitely would tend to see more Hispanic/Latinos from other states come to Nebraska from California, Texas, etc., but directly from international, it could be fairly similar.

TOBIAS: Let’s talk more about the growth of Nebraska’s Hispanic/Latino population. While this is still growing at a faster pace than the general population, Hispanic/Latino growth has slowed some, as you mentioned.

DROZD: That’s right, and part of this is just mathematics. As your base population gets larger over time, it’s harder and harder to keep the same growth rate because you have to grow by a larger and larger number of people. But what we’ve seen is the growth rates for Hispanic/Latino were cut in half in the 2000s versus their 1990s levels, and if I take these numbers to 2014 and extrapolate them for a full decade up to 2020, it would again be about cut in half. So in the actual numbers it’s about 77 percent growth in the 2000s for Hispanic/Latino and now it’d be about 34 percent over the 2010s decade here. That’s a sizable drawdown. But as far as number of persons increasing in the state, Hispanic/Latinos is definitely still the leader.

TOBIAS: Still the leader and still accounting for a pretty significant amount of Nebraska’s population increase both in the 2000s and since in 2010.

DROZD: Yes, if you would look at the total growth in the state and kind of attribute it to each population group, kind of in our proportion of the pie, a Hispanic/Latino would have had over 60 percent of Nebraska’s population growth in the 2000s. Now, as we look at these numbers so far for the 2010s decade, that’s dropped down to more like 40 percent. So it’s not a majority of the state’s growth so far this decade as both white, Black and Asian increases have picked up a little bit.

TOBIAS: So why are these sort of changes important to track and what are the impacts?

DROZD: There’s a lot of differing factors and some of them are policy related, and we know that some of the growth in the Asian population is from refugees, the people who’ve kind of been forced out of their home area or seeking asylum here in the United States. So there again can be some cultural transitions. There can be English as a language issue. Especially the schools and hospitals and places that deal with the general population groups, they need to be aware and prepared and able to handle any associated challenges that there might be. So as we let people know what’s going on, they tend to see it on the ground and that helps them in their planning for the future as well.

TOBIAS: So if you look at some of the new information, how does that have an impact on what you see Nebraska looking like in a couple of decades?

DROZD: The trend is definitely towards more racial diversity in our state and all signs point that that will continue. We do know that the growth rate for whites will tend to slow as the population continues to age and people just happen to age into demographic groups that tend to have higher mortality rates. So the natural increase of a population among whites will slow and at the same time, we’re going to see especially if migration continues at relatively high levels, continued growth among all minority groups because they tend to be a younger population that has more births and relatively fewer deaths. So the population will kind of transition and there’s a lot of states, notably Texas and California, where the population especially the younger populations are already what they call majority-minority. Nebraska is approaching that for certain younger age groupa, but it’ll still be a long time before the overall population will be considered majority-minority.

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