The Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) civil labor force grew from 5.5 million in 1994 to 8.8 million in 2014, and it is projected to grow another 2 million by 2024.
This AANHPI labor market is overrepresented at both the lower and higher ends, and many AANHPIs continue to struggle despite the economic recovery since the Great Recession. Almost 2.2 million AANHPIs lived below the federal poverty line in 2014—a 35% increase from 2009. This rising trend nearly doubled the next highest rate of increase for any racial or ethnic group and was five times the rate of increase for Whites. AANHPIs living in poverty also are disproportionately concentrated in metro areas with the highest housing costs; these areas account for nearly half of poor Asian Americans and 40% of poor Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, compared to 17% of the total U.S. poor population.
We must close the racial wealth gap, including for AANHPI subgroups. We also must provide greater access to affordable, stable housing, especially addressing the unique risk of AANHPI displacement in metro areas.
• Raise the minimum wage and close the gender wage gap. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has not been increased since 2009, and in particular, one-third of AANHPI women workers are paid less than $15 per hour. Moreover, disaggregated data demonstrates that, for example, Native Hawaiian women are paid only 66 cents for every dollar a white man is paid; Vietnamese, Laotian, and Samoan American women 61 cents; Burmese American women 53 cents; and Bhutanese American women only 38 cents.
• Ensure that all workers have the right to organize and collectively bargain. While union membership has declined nationally, AANHPI unionization has grown from 9.4% in 2013 to 9.8% in 2015. On average, unionization raises AANHPI workers’ wages by 9% —approximately two dollars per hour—and AANHPI workers in unions are 19% more likely to have health insurance and 25% more likely to be in a pension plan, compared to their non-union counterparts. These benefits are even greater for AANHPI workers in typically low-wage occupations.
• Enforce worker protection policies that maintain safe and respectful working environments for all working people regardless of job, immigration status, or documentation.
• Support paid family and medical leave and paid sick days.
• Increase, preserve, and improve existing affordable housing stock.
• Invest in affordable housing that is culturally appropriate and in AANHPI communities, including in culturally significant AANHPI neighborhoods and communities at risk of displacement.
• Provide equitable and accessible mortgage financing and refinancing, accounting for the needs and challenges faced by culturally and linguistically isolated populations.
• Increase access to public housing and other housing supports, including the restoration and expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) that were lost due to sequester
Support efforts to eliminate current gender wage gaps and support family supportive policies such as paid sick days.
Reform the tax code to be more equitable and close the racial wealth gap
Increase Native Hawaiian homeownership
• Preserve funding for Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants.
• Restore equitable access to mortgage financing options on Hawaiian Home Lands by renegotiating the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Hawaii’s Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, regarding Section 247 for Single Family Insured Mortgages on Hawaiian Home Lands.
• Expand the Native Hawaiian Loan Guarantee, Section 184A.
Support small business development and access to capital
• Promote access to capital, capacity building, and innovation to aid small business development, including micro-entrepreneurs and the self-employed.
• Support legislation to expand the U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program to include support for eligible Native Hawaiian organizations.