Bias Plagues L.A.'s Growing Asian-Pacific Population

From United Press International

The Los Angeles region's Asian-Pacific population is expected to skyrocket in the next five years, but still receives scant attention from the government to help overcome discrimination, a recent study said.

Researchers for the United Way found that the area's Asian-Pacific population grew from 238,000 in 1970 to 457,000 in 1980 and is now expected to climb to as high as 792,000 in the next five years.

Despite their rapidly growing numbers, Asian-Pacific people are still discriminated against by employers, no matter what kinds of jobs the newcomers held before entering the United States, the study said.

For instance, nearly half of the county's Filipinos and Asian Indians have educations higher than the average for most residents, but they often have trouble finding work comparable to their previous jobs.

Unemployment is most severe among newly arrived Vietnamese, nearly a third of whom have from none to no more than eight years of education. Only 44% of the county's Vietnamese adults are working, with salaries averaging $9,610 annually--the lowest of all Asian-Pacific ethnic groups.

Special mental health programs "are needed for displaced professionals and refugees," said United Way spokesman David Gurzenski.

"They cannot make a successful transition because they are discriminated against by employers who feel they cannot function effectively because they lack social skills."

The yearlong study found that such groups need many of the same social services sought by other minority communities. But, it added, "because of their history of exclusion and discrimination as well as their language and cultural problems . . . programs should be tailored to them."

The United Way Asian Pacific Research and Development Council said the study is to be used to help the organization determine what kind of services are most needed to help Asian-Pacific residents.

It criticizes Americans for lumping all Asian-Pacific ethnic groups into one population, stressing that there are nine ethnic groups with different characteristics and needs--the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, Asian Indians, Samoans, Hawaiians, Vietnamese and Guamanians.

Gurzenski also said the government should offer more assistance to Asian-Pacific residents who try to open their own businesses, noting that 70% of the county's Japanese are self-employed, 65% of its Chinese are self-employed and 40% of its Koreans are self-employed.

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