Vietnamese in NYC: A Profile
BY Annie Wang
Between 2015 and 2020, the Vietnamese1 population in NYC grew (+8.9%) at a faster rate than the Asian2 population (+6.8%). No other Asian ethnic group in NYC is growing as quickly as the Vietnamese population. In contrast, the City shrunk by 0.6% over the same period.
During this time, the Vietnamese population moved away from the Bronx (-6.8 percentage points), Brooklyn (-2.3 percentage points), and Staten Island (-1.7 percentage points) and shifted into Manhattan (+6.9 percentage points) and Queens (+3.9 percentage points). Even with this shift, no other Asian ethnic group has as high a proportion of its population living in the Bronx (14.7%).
The share of seniors in the overall Vietnamese population is growing: they now are 5.3 percentage points more of the total Vietnamese population than in 2015. The Vietnamese population is aging faster than the broader NYC population, whose senior population grew by 2.2 percentage points.
Immigration, Citizenship, & Mobility
The Vietnamese population has the highest percentage of naturalized citizens (42.7%) and the lowest percentage of non-citizens (16.0%) compared to other Asian ethnic groups in NYC. In contrast, most people in NYC became citizens by birthright (63.3%) and naturalization (20.9%). Some 15.8% of New Yorkers are non-citizens.
58.6% of Vietnamese in NYC are foreign-born, compared to only one-third in NYC overall (36.7%). This is the lowest foreign-born rate among Asian ethnic groups.
8.5% of foreign-born Vietnamese arrived within 5 years of the survey, slightly lower than the City’s 9.5% estimate and the lowest rate among Asian ethnic groups.
The Vietnamese population is somewhat mobile. Within one year of the survey, 3.6% of the overall Vietnamese population had relocated to NYC from elsewhere in the U.S., and 3.3% had relocated from abroad.
Education & English
Vietnamese adults aged 25 and older have differing levels of education, with one-quarter (25.2%) holding less than a high school education and one-half (49.6%) holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is both less and more educated than the City overall on the two ends of the educational spectrum, where 17.3% have less than a high school education and 39.0% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Vietnamese adults are also more educated than the Asian adult population, where 43.7% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The Vietnamese community’s English proficiency levels are lower than those of the City, with 40.8% of Vietnamese over the age of 5 considered to have limited English proficiency (LEP) versus the City’s 22.4% rate. The LEP rate is lower for Vietnamese children (5+ but under 18) at 12.0% but more than double for Vietnamese seniors (age 65+) at 83.5%.
Income & Poverty
Vietnamese New Yorkers have average per capita and family median incomes and above-average household median incomes compared to New York City residents overall.
Vietnamese poverty rates are below-average compared to both NYC and Asian populations. However, a significant proportion (42.8%) of senior Vietnamese residents are near poverty, which is double the rate of New York City seniors overall (19.6%). In comparison, Vietnamese children and adults have below average or average rates of poverty.
Benefits & Health
Vietnamese households3 are enrolled in SNAP at a lower rate than both City and Asian households.
The Affordable Care Act has significantly reduced the number of uninsured in NYC, and the Vietnamese population is no exception. Between 2015 and 2020, 48.1% fewer Vietnamese people were uninsured. As a result, the Vietnamese now have the lowest rates of uninsured people (4.7%) compared to other Asian ethnic groups. The remaining population is enrolled in private insurance (67.5%) and public insurance (31.8%).
A lower percentage of the Vietnamese population is enrolled in government-assisted health insurance compared to both City and Asian populations.
Vietnamese labor force participation rates are above-average for male workers and average for female workers.
Vietnamese unemployment rates are half of the City rates across the board and the lowest across Asian ethnic groups.
Vietnamese employees are about as likely to be self-employed (9.5%) as employees in the overall population (9.5%).
60.5% of the Vietnamese labor force is employed by five industries. The highest percentage of Vietnamese employed by a single industry is 16.2% in professional services. Within professional services, 23.3% of Vietnamese work in computer systems design, 12.7% work in management, scientific, and technical consulting services, and 12.3% work in advertising.
Average household size, NYC, 2015 and 2020
Vietnamese households3 had a larger average household size than City households (2.88 people versus 2.57 people). In general, average household sizes have decreased in New York City since 2015, and Vietnamese households are no exception.
Vietnamese households3 are overcrowded (12.6%) at a higher rate than City households (8.2%) but at a lower rate than Asian households (14.7%).
Vietnamese households3 own and rent their homes at a similar rate to City households.
Vietnamese renters are less rent burdened compared to City and Asian renters. 65.5% of rented Vietnamese households are rent burdened in some capacity, with the majority qualifying as severely rent burdened. These rates are below City (72.3% of rented households qualify as rent burdened) and Asian households (75.3%).
Vietnamese households3 report owning a computer at similar rates to Asian and City households.
Vietnamese households3 report higher internet access rates than Asian and City households.