Community at a Glance

Arab American Community in the United States


Arab Americans have been settling in the US since the 1800s                                                  

Arab Americans constitute an ethnicity made up of several waves of immigrants from the Arabic-speaking countries of southwestern Asia and North Africa that have been settling in the United States since the 1880s. More than 80% are U.S. citizens. Descendants of earlier immigrants and more recent immigrants work in all sectors of society and are leaders in many professions and organizations. As a community, Arab Americans have a strong commitment to family, economic and educational achievements, and making contributions to all aspects of American life. Their Arab heritage reflects a culture that is thousands of years old and includes 22 Arab countries as diverse as Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia and Palestine.


1/3 of the Arab American population in the US lives in California, New York, and Michigan.                                                                                                                                                      

Nearly 3.5 million Americans are of Arab descent in the United States. Arab Americans live in all 50 states, but two thirds reside in 10 states; one third of the total live in California, New York, and Michigan. About 94% live in metropolitan areas. Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Northeastern NJ are the top six metro areas of Arab American concentration.

Lebanese Americans constitute a greater part of the total number of Arab Americans residing in most states, except New Jersey, where Egyptian Americans are the largest Arab group. Americans of Syrian decent make up the majority of Arab Americans in Rhode Island, while the largest Palestinian population is in Illinois, and the Iraqi and Assyrian/Chaldean communities are concentrated in Illinois, Michigan, and California.


46% have a bachelor’s degree or higher                                                                                            

 Arab Americans with at least a high school diploma number 89%. More than 46% of Americans of Arab decent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28% of Americans at large. 19% of Arab Americans have a post-graduate degree, which is nearly twice the American average (10%). Of the population currently enrolled in school, 13% are in pre-school, 57% are in elementary or high school, 32% are enrolled in college, and 13% are conducting graduate studies.


65%  are in the labor force

Similar to the national average, about 65% of Arab American adults are in the labor force; with 5% unemployed. 73% of working Arab Americans are employed in managerial, professional, technical, sales or administrative fields. 14% of Americans of Arab decent are employed in service jobs compared to 17% for Americans overall. Most Arab Americans work in the private sector (88%), though 12% are government employees.


$56,331 median income

Median income for Arab American households in 2008 was $56,331 compared with $51,369 for all households in the United States. Mean individual income is 27% higher than that national average of $61,921. 13.7% of Arab Americans live below the poverty line, though the figure increases to over 28% for single mothers.

  Statistical Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates (2007-2009) and AAI’s research and surveys.