CENSUS SHOWS GROWTH AND CHANGING DISTRIBUTION OF THE CAMBODIAN
POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES

by Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD (Originally Written for Asian American Press Newspaper, St. Paul, MN).
Copyright 2001 by the Author.

According to 2000 census figures, the Cambodian origin population in the United States grew from
149,047 in 1990 to 171,937 a decade later. The enumerated Cambodian population increased 13.3%
over the ten year period. It should be noted that the census figures are widely considered to represent an
undercount of the actual population of immigrant and refugee groups. The census numbers do however
show interesting trends in Cambodian residential settlement across the country.

In 2000, by far the largest Cambodian population was counted in California (70,232), as was the case in
1990. However, the Cambodian population tallied in California actually decreased over the decade. In
1990, almost 48% of the entire Cambodian population was tabulated in California. In 2000, the
proportion of all counted Cambodians living in this state was just under 41%. While the Cambodian
population was decreasing in California, it was actually expanding impressively in other states, including
Massachusetts, home to almost 20,000 enumerated Cambodians in 2000; Washington (13,899); and
Pennsylvania (8,531). The Cambodian population also grew significantly in Minnesota. The 5,530
persons of Cambodian origin enumerated in Minnesota represented the sixth largest population among
the 50 states. Other states with growing Cambodian communities over the decade included Rhode
Island, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

Among metropolitan areas, the largest Cambodian population was counted in the Los Angeles region
(36,233). It is noteworthy that within the immense Los Angeles metro, almost half of the of the
Cambodian population was counted in the city of Long Beach (17,396). Long Beach represents the
most sizable Cambodian enclave community in the United States. The next largest is found in the
Boston area (17,301), followed by Seattle (12,391), San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland (10,552); and
Stockton-Lodi, CA (9,313).

The largest Cambodian Population in the Midwestern United States was enumerated in Minneapolis-St.
Paul (4,149). In the rank-hierarchy of Midwest cities with Cambodian communities, the Twin Cities were
followed by Chicago, Columbus, OH, Rochester, MN, and Grand Rapids, MI.

Mark E. Pfeifer currently manages the Hmong Resource Centre at the Hmong Cultural Center. He may
be reached at 651-917-9937 or at hmongcultural@yahoo.com Detailed breakdowns for the Cambodian,
Lao, Hmong, and Vietnamese populations in the U.S. may be found at Pfeifer’s new website: www.
hmongstudies.org/

Cambodian Populations, States by Rank Order U.S. Census 2000 (1990 Figure is in Parentheses)

1. California – 70232 (71178)

2. Massachusetts – 19696 (13849)

3. Washington - 13899 (10757)

4. Pennsylvania – 8531 (5301)

5. Texas - 6852 (6475)

6. Minnesota – 5530 (3209)

7. Rhode Island – 4522 (3666)

8. Virginia - 4423 (3956)

9. New York - 2973 (3746)

10. Georgia – 2905 (1810)

11. Illinois - 2879 (2686)

12. Ohio - 2725 (2265)

13. Oregon - 2569 (2224)

14. Florida - 2447 (1327)

15. Connecticut – 2377 (1168)

16. North Carolina - 2232 (1640)

17. Maryland - 1921 (1954)

18. Colorado – 1451 (981)

19. Utah - 1332 (1061)

20. Michigan - 1306 (634)

Top Metropolitan Areas Cambodian Population U.S. Census 2000

1. Los Angeles--Riverside--Orange County, CA CMSA; California - 36233

2. Boston--Worcester--Lawrence, MA--NH--ME--CT CMSA; Massachusetts - 17301

3. Seattle--Tacoma--Bremerton, WA CMSA; Washington - 12391

4. San Francisco--Oakland--San Jose, CA CMSA; California - 10552

5. Stockton--Lodi, CA MSA; California - 9313

6. Philadelphia--Wilmington--Atlantic City, PA--NJ--DE--MD CMSA; Pennsylvania - 7790

7. Providence--Fall River--Warwick, RI--MA MSA; Rhode Island - 6330

8. Washington--Baltimore, DC--MD--VA--WV CMSA; Virginia - 4555

9. San Diego, CA MSA; California - 4314

10. Fresno, CA MSA; California - 4178

11. Minneapolis--St. Paul, MN--WI MSA; Minnesota - 4149

12. New York--Northern New Jersey--Long Island, NY--NJ--CT-- PA CMSA; New York - 4060

13. Dallas--Fort Worth, TX CMSA; Texas - 3310

14. Modesto, CA MSA; California - 2959

15. Chicago--Gary--Kenosha, IL--IN--WI CMSA; Illinois - 2764

Top Metropolitan Areas Cambodian Population Midwestern U.S. U.S. Census 2000

1. Minneapolis--St. Paul, MN--WI MSA; Minnesota - 4149

2. Chicago--Gary--Kenosha, IL--IN--WI CMSA; Illinois - 2764

3. Columbus, OH MSA; Ohio - 1464

4. Rochester, MN MSA; Minnesota - 973

5. Grand Rapids--Muskegon--Holland, MI MSA; Michigan - 880