Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States are more optimistic about their personal finances than the adult population as a whole, but recent polls show a less optimistic outlook when it comes to paying for household expenses or unexpected medical bills.
A new poll comes from AAPI Data and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research The survey found that 62% of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans said their household finances were in good shape, slightly higher than the 54% of all U.S. adults who said their household finances were good. October AP-NORC Poll. But only about a quarter of Asian American and Pacific Islander adults are very or very confident they can pay for unexpected medical expenses. This is consistent with the overall rate of 26% of U.S. adults. Meanwhile, four in 10 are “not too” or “not at all” confident.
When it comes to their ability to maintain household expenses, only three in 10 Asian and Pacific Islander adults are very confident they can do it. Another 46% are “somewhat confident” and 23% are “little confident.”
Stan Kilpatrick is a 65-year-old Republican from Altadena, California, who runs a limousine service. His client base, which includes the University of Southern California, has dwindled as more events and meetings with guest speakers and groups are being held online. Meanwhile, car insurance and fuel costs continue to rise.
“As business declined, most of the money I was saving for retirement went toward daily expenses,” said Kilpatrick, who is half-Chinese. He also has a 23-year-old daughter living at home who is “very frightened” by current prices. I feel for her because if you’re just starting out, it’s like you’re really stuck in roommate land. “
He is confident he can withstand unexpected payments, such as health-related needs. But that’s only because he has health insurance as a veteran.
“They were able to share the cost. So, it did help, but it ended up being out of pocket and I wasn’t sure the VA would support me,” Kilpatrick said.
Karthick Ramakrishnan, a public policy professor at the University of California, Riverside and founder of AAPI Data, said concerns about health costs and medical debt are clearly top priorities for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community . There are more multigenerational Asian and Pacific Islander households than the U.S. average, and these households are more likely to include foreign-born grandparents who are not eligible for health insurance.
Ramakrishnan said the weight of the medical bills is also emotional.
“In many Asian, Asian American cultures, the sense of family obligation tends to be quite high,” he said. “You look at people with higher average incomes, but they’re not much more likely than the U.S. average to say they have enough saved for retirement — 22 percent versus 18 percent.”
In terms of the nation’s overall economy, 65% of Asian and Pacific Islander adults believe the economy is at least somewhat poor.This is consistent with 69% of the U.S. adult population December AP-NORC Poll. Additionally, about 4 in 10 Asian and Pacific Islander adults believe the economy will only get worse next year. Only about 2 in 10 think it will actually improve. But they mostly followed party lines when it came to how President Joe Biden would handle the economy, inflation, jobs and student debt.
About half identify as Democrats, about a quarter as Republicans, and 2 in 10 as independents.
About 4 in 10 Asian and Pacific Islander adults approve of Biden’s handling of the economy. But only 34% of American adults approve of his economic performance. A majority of Asian and Pacific Islander adults (55%) approve of the way Biden is handling his job. Only 32% approve of the way he has dealt with cost inflation. On student debt, 45 percent support him. That matches the 41% of U.S. adults who supported this view in an October poll.
Audrey Jackson-Post, 34, of Kirksville, Mo., said her family’s financial situation has been difficult. Sometimes she feels stressed about paying basic expenses. She and her husband recently ran out of money to buy a house. Jackson-Post, who is of Korean descent, only works part-time in the school kitchen while her husband works full-time in the classroom.
As a Democrat, Jackson-Post is unsure whether she will vote for Biden in the presidential election.
“Since he’s been in office, it’s been harder for everyone to find a job. It just feels like everything has been harder,” she said. “My situation wasn’t great, but if the housing market hadn’t been what it was, I could have bought a different house.”
James Bae, 49, a married business consultant in Temecula, Calif., said his household income is down from a year ago. The number of companies willing to pay for his services fluctuates with changes in economic conditions. At the same time, household spending has increased. Bae, who is Korean-American and not affiliated with any political party, recently returned to school to pursue his Ph.D. Additionally, he and his wife have two teenage sons.
“They’re eating a lot and becoming more active. Of course, I’m glad they’re great and they’re getting more active, but it costs more,” Bae said.
At the same time, he believes the country’s economy is moving in the right direction. He pointed out that the Biden administration is trying to cultivate more technology and manufacturing in the United States and provide financial assistance during the epidemic. He also acknowledged that inflation is “a tough needle to thread.”
“If I were to make a trade-off between the employment situation and the current economic situation, I would rather face the inflation problem now than face a recession,” Pei said.
He fears the outcome of this year’s presidential election could seriously disrupt the situation.
“Building infrastructure for a developing future economy will take time,” Pei said. “If there is a change of government, I suspect a lot of this will be stopped and restricted.”
The poll was conducted among 1,091 U.S. adults (Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders) from December 4-11, 2023, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based Amplify AAPI panel, which aims to In representing the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.