By: US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Today, as we celebrate National Inventors’ Day, we honor the unique contributions of Pan Asian Americans to the American technology sector and overall economy.
From Sabeer Bhatia, the co-founder of Hotmail.com, to Jerry Yang, the co-founder of web services provider Yahoo!, to Bobby Murphy, the co-founder of the social media company Snap, Asian American innovators have helped to shape the modern American technological landscape. But as we look to the next generation of inventors, promoting smart policies that protect America’s competitive edge and our ability to innovate will ensure that Asian American pioneers could continue to use their talents to invent the technologies of the future.
As we honor the great accomplishments by Asian American technological innovators on this National Inventor’s Day, we must also recognize those in supporting roles who contributed to these successes.
Standing behind the great Asian American inventors in the technology industry are the men and women of the tech sector workforce who have supported our country’s greatest innovative accomplishments. A 2020 analysis of the workforce demographics from Google, Intel, LinkedIn, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo! found that one in every four employees were Asian. And in executive positions, Asian American leaders such as Zoom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Yuan, Mastercard Executive Chairman Ajay Banja and NerdWallet co-founder Tim Chen are helping to drive technological innovation forward.
As the most established and largest non-profit organization representing Pan Asian Americans in business, we know the critical role Asian Americans play in helping to drive technological innovation forward in the United States. The US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC) was established in 1984 to help to navigate the aspirations and challenges facing Asian Americas in the workforce. Since that time, we’ve seen record growth in the Asian American business community, with data showing Asian Americans were the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS), the Asian American labor force totaled 6.3 million in 2004 and grew to 8.8 million in 2014. Prior to the pandemic, projections from the BLS showed that number was expected to increase another two million by 2024 to reach 10.8 million.
Just as Asian Americans make significant contributions to progress in technology, research from the past decade reveals the integral role Asian Americans have played in bolstering the overall American economy. Data from 2016 found that 10 percent of U.S. businesses were Asian-owned. In 2017, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders earned approximately $744.8 billion, which was greater than the economies of Saudi Arabia or Switzerland.
However, against this backdrop, the Asian American community has also faced major economic repercussions due to the pandemic. Many Asian Americans are employed in industries that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. According to a McKinsey & Company study, “Asian-owned businesses make up 26 percent of accommodations and food service, 17 percent of retail trade, and 11 percent of education-services businesses.” Additionally, the Asian American unemployment rate increased by more than 450 percent from February 2020 to June 2020. We have work to do.
As the United States begins to recover from the heavy economic toll inflicted by the pandemic, our political leaders must consider the role technological innovation plays in empowering and supporting Asian American inventors and the workforce that drives innovation and success. Technological innovation is vital to the survival of Asian-owned businesses and will help to drive our nation’s economic recovery – leading to greater innovative accomplishments by all inventors and our technology industry. Yes, we have work to do!