Why Do Asian Americans Have the Worst Long-Term Unemployment?

Asian Americans are the best educated ethnic group in the United States, by a long shot.* Logically, that means they should have the least severe unemployment, given that more educated workers tend to have an easier time in the job market. Instead, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, the Asian community suffered from the most severe long-term joblessness of any racial demographic in 2010, during the slow, early period of the economic recovery. 

As shown in the graph below, 48.7 percent of unemployed Asian Americans had been out of a job for 27 weeks or more. Blacks were next, at 48.5 percent, followed by Whites, at 42.7 percent. 

Longterm_Unemployment_By_Race.PNG

What makes the situation even odder is the more educated Asians are, the more they fall behind whites. Asians with just a high school diploma were more likely to be employed than whites; however, Asians with a bachelor's degree or higher more likely to be unemployed.

The report's author offers up three explanations for the mystery. First, there's the California problem: About a third of all Asian Americans live in the Golden State, which has disproportionately high joblessness, both short term and long-term. Second, there's immigrant bias: Perhaps employers prefer to hire U.S.-born workers. Third, there's racial bias. If Asians had the same long-term unemployment as their equally-educated white peers, their long-term jobless rate would be 8.1 percentage points lower.

__________________

*About 34 percent of Asian Americans have a bachelor's degree, compared to 25 percent of whites. Another 23 percent have an advanced degree, versus 14 percent for whites.

Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

Just In