Diaspora by the Numbers

  • Filipino Diaspora in the United States:  The U.S. Census Bureau newsroom reported as of May 2011 (from the 2010 census) 3.2 million Filipinos reside in the United States, making Filipino Americans the second largest population of Asian Americans in the U.S. after Chinese Americans. The earliest permanent Filipino American residents arrived in the Americans in 1763, later creating settlements such as Saint Malo, Manila Village in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, and four others in Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes. In the early twentieth century, a significant number began to arrive. Most of the Filipino migrants to the United States during the colonial period came as cheap labor. During the first half of the twentieth century, Hawaii and California had agricultural economies requiring a constant supply of inexpensive, immigrant labor. Hawaii’s economy focused on sugar growing supported by plantation labor. In 1907, 150 Filipinos arrived in Hawaii. By 1909, 639 workers came and by 1910, there were 2,915. From 1911 to 1920, an estimated 3,000 workers arrived yearly. In 1919, there were 24,791 Japanese workers and 10,354 Filipinos representing 54.7% and 22.9% respectively of the total plantation labor force. The 1920s saw an average of 7,630 Filipinos arriving in Hawaii annually. In the 1930s, Filipinos had replaced the Japanese as the largest ethnic group of workers in the plantations.
  • Immigration status: Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) adult Filipino Americans in the United States are foreign born, compared with about 74% of adult Asian Americans and 16% of the overall adult U.S. population. Three-quarters of Filipino adults are U.S. citizens (77%), higher than the share among all Asian adults (70%) but lower than the national share (91%).
    Over one-quarter of all Filipino foreign born in the United States arrived in 2000 or later.  As of 2008, 26.5 percent of the 1.7 million Filipino foreign born entered the country in 2000 or later, with 26.0 percent entering between 1990 and 1999, 24.6 percent between 1980 and 1989, 15.5 percent between 1970 and 1979, and the remaining 7.5 percent prior to 1970.
  • Language. More than three-quarters of Filipino Americans (78%) speak English proficiently, compared with 63% of Asian Americans overall and 90% of the U.S. population overall.
    A relatively small share, 30.0 percent, reported speaking English less than “very well” (making them limited English proficient) — far below the 52.1 percent reported among all foreign-born age 5 and older. A minority of limited English proficient Filipinos did not speak Tagalog, one of the national languages of the Philippines, of which is the fifth most-spoken language in the United States, with 1.262 million speakers.
    Most limited English proficient Filipino immigrants reported speaking Tagalog (86.0 percent). However, a minority in 2008 spoke Llocano or Hocano (8.3 percent) or Bisayan (1.2 percent), which are indigenous languages in the Philippines, or other languages (4.5 percent).
  • Age. The median age of adult Filipino Americans is 43, slightly higher than for adult Asian Americans (41) and slightly lower than the national median age (45).
  • Marital status. More than half of adult Filipino Americans (56%) are married, a share slightly lower than that among Asian Americans overall (59%), but higher than the national share (51%). Forty-eight percent of Filipino Americans married someone who was not Asian American, and 5% married someone from another Asian group.
  • Fertility. The share of Filipino-American women ages 18 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the 2010 American Community Survey was 6.5%; this is similar to the comparable share among Asian-American women overall (6.8%) and lower than the national share (7.1%). About 27% of Filipino-American women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were unmarried, nearly double the share for all Asian-American women (15%) but lower than the national share (37%).
  • Regional dispersion. A majority of adult Filipino Americans (66%) live in the West, compared with 47% of Asian Americans and 23% of the U.S. population overall. Majority of Filipinos settled in California, Louisiana, the Greater New York area, and in Illinois, among other places in the early twentieth century.
  • Educational attainment. Among Filipino Americans ages 25 and older, close to half (47%) have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree; this is slightly lower than the Asian-American share (49%) but much higher than the national share (28%).
  • Income. Median annual personal earnings for Filipino-American full-time, year-round workers are $43,000, lower than for all Asian Americans in general ($48,000) but higher than for U.S. adults overall ($40,000). Among households, median annual income for Filipinos is $75,000, higher than for all Asians ($66,000) and all U.S. households ($49,800).
  • Poverty status. The share of adult Filipino Americans who live in poverty is 6%, lower than the rate for Asian Americans in general (12%) and the national rate (13%).
  • Health Insurance: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, approximately 11 percent of Filipino Americans are still uninsured. Studies show that Filipino American populations suffer from high numbers of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Homeownership. More than six-in-ten Filipino Americans (62%) own a home, compared with 58% of all Asian Americans and 65% of the U.S. population overall.

Filipinos in the US based on 2000 US Census Report (2010 map still unavailable)