Income Disparities Show Many Asian American Experiences

Number of the Day: The most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance

$74,600

That's how wide of a disparity there is in the median household incomes of various Asian American groups, showing that this segment of the population is not a monolith.

Households headed by Indian Americans had annual median incomes of $119,000 in 2019, the highest among the largest Asian origin groups, while those headed by Burmese Americans had median incomes of $44,400, the lowest, according to a recent report by Pew Research Center. As Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to a close, the substantial difference in incomes underscores just how diverse the U.S. Asian population is, despite sometimes being referred to as a single group. 

Asian Americans overall had a median household income of $85,800, significantly higher than the $61,800 for the general U.S. population. Households headed by Hmong, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino origin groups all exceeded the U.S. median in terms of annual income, while Laotian, Nepalese, and Burmese were lower.

Pew studied the 19 largest Asian origin groups in the U.S., which account for 97% of the total Asian American population. Its analysis included people who identify their race as Asian alone or as part of a multiracial background, regardless of Hispanic origin.

To mark the annual celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, The Balance has featured some of the success stories within the community, particularly those who have faced challenges during the pandemic and persevered—all while maintaining their cultural roots. For example, Farah Jesani, the daughter of Indian immigrants, took inspiration from her heritage to found a company that is bringing traditional chai tea to the coffee-crazed Portland, Oregon area.