We Burmese Americans are an elusive bunch. We’re rather underrepresented among Asian Americans. But our exact numbers are unknown. The other day, my mom asked me how big the Burmese American community was, and to that I had no answer. So I turned to some numbers from the 2010 Census, which shed some light on the size of the Burmese American community.
For more on my series about Burmese Americans, click on the “Burmese Americans” tag.
WHERE THE BURMESE AMERICAN POPULATION STANDS
The 2010 census tabulated 100,200 individuals of Burmese descent, representing about 0.6% of the Asian American population. Between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses, the Burmese population increased by over 499%, from 16,720 to 100,200.
This exponential increase is due to 2 major factors:
- Self-identification as ‘Burmese’ (due to increased awareness and campaigns like the Burmese Complete Count Committee)
- Entry of refugees from Burma (especially ethnic minorities such as the Chin, Karen, and Kachin)
However, I feel that this number is a bit of an underestimate, because a great number of Burmese Americans are members of the Chinese and Indian communities and for whatever reason, may have not manually written in “Burmese” in order to be counted as such.
Burmese Americans’ place in Asian America
Despite this increase, Burmese Americans are the 5th least numerous among the 20 Asian American groups, wedged between the Bangladeshi Americans and the Indonesian Americans:
|Rank||Ethnicity||Total Population||% of Asian Americans|
Burmese Americans’ place in Southeast Asian America
Among the 6,382,375 Southeast Asians, Burmese Americans are ranked 7th most numerous, between the Laotian Americans and Indonesian Americans:
|Rank||Ethnicity||Total Population||% of Southeast Asians|
It’s notable that the size of the documented Burmese American community has grown to six digits in the past decade. While it pales in comparison to the Burmese diaspora in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, the United States still has one of the world’s largest communities of overseas Burmese.
I obtained this data from the 2010 Census Summary File 2, PCT1-Population Group-Burmese alone or in any combination (404) & (100-299) or (300, A01-Z99) or (400-999): TOTAL POPULATION.