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Orange County is a rapidly growing community of Korean-born immigrants

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The highest percentage of Korean-born immigrants in California as a percentage of the population is now in Orange County.

This shows that Korean-born immigrants are shifting their residence from Los Angeles to Orange County.

Orange County has the highest proportion of Korean-born residents.


According to the Foreign-born Population in the United States report released by the Census Bureau on April 9, there are a total of 1,042,199 Korean-born people in the country. Of these, 315,248 are in California. This means that one in three (30.4%) Korean-born immigrants nationwide lives in the Golden State.

Looking at California alone, Orange County (2.08% – 65,922) had the highest proportion of Korean-born residents when compared to the overall county population. This indicates that 2 out of every 100 residents in Orange County are Korean-born immigrants. The next highest percentages of Korean-born immigrants were in Los Angeles County (1.39% – 138,199), Santa Clara County (1.24% – 23,696), and San Francisco County (0.79% – 6,705).

Korean immigrants have continued to flow into Orange County over the past decade. The Census Bureau analyzed the change in the Korean-born population over the past decade (2008-2012 and 2018-2022).

In Orange County, the number of Korean-born immigrants increased by 2,036 over the decade. This is the largest influx of Korean-born immigrants among counties in California.

Los Angeles County, on the other hand, lost 23,992 Korean-born residents during this period, making it the largest outflow in California.

In addition to Orange County, Contra Costa County (1,395), San Diego County (884), Santa Clara County (850), and San Mateo County (697) saw an increase in Korean-born residents over the 10-year period. Other than LA County, counties with significant declines include San Bernardino County (1,100), Santa Barbara County (585), and Riverside County (541).

By state, however, California (21,801) and New York (21,972), as well as Illinois (6,005) and Maryland (3,097), have seen the largest outflows of Korean-born residents over the past decade.

In contrast, Texas (6,525), Alabama (2,461), and Washington (2,306) were among the states that saw an increase in Korean immigrants.

The number of Korean-born immigrants has been declining over the years. More than half of the nation’s Korean-born immigrants (625,585 – 60.5%) came to the U.S. before 2000, followed by 2000-2009 (218,890), and 2010 and later (188,825).

Three out of every five Korean-born immigrants (66.6%-689,165) have become U.S. citizens.

Looking at Korean-born immigrants’ education level, more than half of Korean immigrants have a bachelor’s degree (34.6%) and 22.7% have a graduate degree or higher.

By occupation, 337,770 (56.7% of those aged 16 and older) work in business, management, and science and engineering, followed by sales and office workers (19.2% – 111,710) and service workers (13.1% – 76,325).

The state with the highest proportion of Korean-born immigrants per capita is Hawaii (1.07% – 15,525). At the county level, Bergen County, New Jersey (4.60%-43,886) had the highest percentage of Korean immigrants.

BY YEOL JANG, HOONSIK WOO [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]