Making sense of the census

One out of four South Bay residents are classified as Asian, ranking second only to those who identify as white and slightly ahead of the region’s Latino population, according to the 2000 national census.

By 2025, the Bay Area will add
1.4 million new residents and 1.2 million new jobs in an increasingly ethnically diverse population of 8.2 million, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Half of those new residents will migrate to the Bay Area — many from other countries, ABAG predicts.

But the way the U.S. Census Bureau classifies race or ethnic origin can be confusing. For example, the census definition of “Asian” doesn’t match the geographic continent of Asia.

Here is a look at the census definitions of race:

American Indian and Alaska Native: A person descended from any of the original peoples of North and South America. Along with members of American Indian tribes, this includes those descended from the original inhabitants of countries such as Mexico, Cuba and Brazil.

Asian: A person descended from the people of Asia, including China, India, Vietnam, Korea and India. Some Indians object to being lumped into the Asian category, citing significant cultural and language differences. Immigrants from other countries in Asia, such as Iran and Armenia, are considered “white.”

Black: A person descended from the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa or many non-Spanish speaking Caribbean islands including Haiti.

White: A person descended from the people of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Other racial categories of the census include Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

In the last census, the government removed its Hispanic designation. Those identifying as Hispanic can be of any race originating from a Spanish-speaking country such as Spain (white), Mexico (American Indian), Peru (possibly Asian, with its large Japanese population) or the Dominican Republic (black).