Sacramento, CA (Oct. 12, 2011) — On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law key legislation calling for data collected by state agencies to be disaggregated by additional Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander ethnicities.
Specifically, Assembly Bill (AB) 1088 requires two agencies, the Department of Industrial Relations and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, to collect demographic data that is disaggregated using the same ethnic categories as the Census Bureau.
Current law already requires that state agencies collect disaggregated data for some Asian ethnic groups, but the additional categories would also capture data about smaller but growing populations of Southeast Asian Americans along with other Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic groups. Moreover, the new law requires agencies to make this data readily available to the public on its websites.
The bill, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), is an important step towards recognizing the unique diversity within the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander community, and in particular for groups with growing populations like Southeast Asian Americans. Historically, the lack of ethnic-specific data has been detrimental to the AANHOPI community by masking significant challenges the community continues to face.
Southeast Asian Americans consistently have some of the highest poverty rates and lowest educational attainment rates in California, but these statistics are often obscured when they are lumped in with other Asian American groups. Especially during these difficult economic times, data from DIR and DFEH will help provide policymakers with relevant disaggregated economic data about the AANHOPI community and where additional investments need to be made.
This law is a step in the right direction toward collecting accurate and detailed information to better inform policies and decisions that impact Southeast Asian Americans. However, while we are excited about this progress to collect disaggregated data, there is much more to be done — particularly in the areas of health data and education data — in order to accurately communicate the needs of Southeast Asian Americans and other underrepresented groups to decision makers.
SEARAC will continue to work with our community partners and policymakers for similar data disaggregation bills in the areas of health and education, and look forward to engaging the community in these endeavors.