Asian Americans have the lowest unemployment rate among any major ethnic group. Why is that the case?
Khee Lee is an executive at Google. HIs parents came here from South Korea when he was two.
Working at a dry-cleaning store, he says, so he and his sister could go to college, loan free.
“They instilled in me a certain work ethic and a focus on just studying very hard,” said Lee.
Of all the major ethnic groups, Asian Americans have the lowest unemployment rate.
“Anytime you hear somebody, or your group as a whole is doing well it’s a point of pride,” said Min Kim, an employee at DramaFever.
At Drama Fever, an online window to Asian entertainment, young Asian Americans feel the drive to succeed.
“With immigrant mentality comes, you know, just a family value that nothing is taken for granted. We really have to work for what we want,” said Khee Lee, an Google Executive.
About half of all Asian Americans hold a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28% for the rest of the population.
But even among other minorities with college-degrees, Asians still have the lowest level of unemployment.
Lee says that might be because of how Asians are viewed in the workplace.
“There is a stereotype of Asian Americans just being like the worker bees. We come in early, work late, and execute extraordinarily well,” said Lee.
Even if the job isn’t particularly well paid.
“My mother was a surgeon in China. and when she came here, her first job was actually dishwasher in a sushi restaurant. I don’t think she felt it was beneath her. They don’t see manual labor jobs as a reflection of their own self-worth,” said Lee.
Another reason for the low unemployment? Self employment.
The number of asian-owned businesses in the U.S. increased 40% between 2002 and 2007, twice the national rate. They tend to hire a lot of their family members.
But there are other stereotypes still holding Asians back.
“That we’re not creative, that we don’t know how to think outside the box. They get perceived as being too quiet or as one dimensional workers. They get stuck in these so-called “white collar sweatshops,” where these glass ceiling barriers prevent them from moving up the ranks,” said Professor C.N. Le.
The younger generation is trying to change that.
“This new generation of Asian Americans are very different from that stereotype,” said Le.
“10 years from now probably you’ll see everyone here as CEO or something,” said Jacqueline Sia, an employee at DramaFever.
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