Posted on June 28, 2010

Arab immigrants began coming to the U.S. is sizable numbers during the 1880’s. It is estimated that nearly 3.5 million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country. Arab Americans are found in every state, but more than two thirds of them live in just ten states (California, Michigan, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Metropolitan Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York are home to one-third of the population.

Arab Americans are as diverse as their countries of origin, with unique immigration experiences that have shaped their ethnic identity in the United States.  While the majority of Arab Americans descend from the first wave of mostly Christian immigrants, Arab Muslims represent the fastest growing segment of the Arab American community. 

Contrary to popular assumptions or stereotypes, the majority of Arab Americans are native-born, and nearly 82% are citizens. While the community traces its roots to every Arab country, the majority of Arab Americans have ancestral ties to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq.   

Quick Facts About Arab AmericansDownload the PDF

National Arab American DemographicsDownload the PDF

The American Community Survey
Data on Americans of Arab descent has been available from the U.S. Census Bureau since 1980. Population estimates and socio-economic characteristics on Arab Americans were determined based on the ancestry information in the decennial census between 1980 and 2000. Since 2003 however, ancestry data has been available through the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is collected as a rolling sample to replace the "long form" of the decennial census (which originally collected ancestry and other information). It captures demographic details of the U.S. population and its subgroups to provide an updated profile of American characteristics. Whereas the decennial census is meant to be a snapshot of our country and only asks questions like race, age and household size, the ACS is constantly in circulation and asks many more questions - ranging from education and income to language and ancestry. For more information about the ACS, please click here.

Using the ACS
The following profiles and population figures are drawn from the most recently published ACS figures. It is important to note that census ancestry data has historically undercounted the Arab American population by up to 60%. Arab ancestry responses do, however, provide valuable information on the changing demographics of this population, such as trends in family size, education levels, language proficiency and occupation. The Arab American Institute works with the Census Bureau to improve the accuracy and availability of data concerning our community.


Click on the map below to find information on your state.

Selected Population Characteristics

  • At least 1.9 million* Americans are of Arab descent.
  • Arab Americans live in all 50 states, but two thirds are concentrated in 10 states; one third of the total live in California, New York, and Michigan.
  • About 94% of Arab Americans live in metropolitan areas. Los Angeles, Detroit, New York/NJ, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are the top five metropolitan areas of Arab American concentration.
  • Lebanese Americans constitute a greater part of the total number of Arab Americans residing in most states, although in Georgia, New Jersey, and Tennessee, Egyptian Americans are the largest Arab group.
  • The largest Arab American community in Arizona is Moroccan, Rhode Island has a plurality of Syrian Americans, and Nebraska and South Dakota have a plurality of Sudanese.
  • While the largest Palestinian population is in California, the greatest concentration of Palestinians can be found in Illinois.
  • There are almost as many Iraqis living in Michigan as there are living in California, even though California is 3.5% larger than Michigan.

National Arab Sub-Ancestry



Top Ten States by Arab American Population

1. California - 272,485

2. Michigan - 191,607

3. New York - 149,627

4. Florida - 100,627

5. Texas - 91,568

6. New Jersey - 85,956

7. Illinois - 85,465

8. Ohio - 65,813

9. Massachusetts - 65,150

10. Pennsylvania - 60,870



Arab American adults with at least a high school diploma number 87%. 43% of Americans of Arab descent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28% of Americans at large. 17% of Arab Americans have a post-graduate degree, which is nearly twice the American average of 10%. Of the population currently enrolled in school, 12% are in preschool and kindergarten, 56% are in elementary or high school, and 32% are enrolled in college or undertaking graduate studies. 


Similar to the national average, about 64% of Arab American adults are in the labor force; with 10% unemployed. 64% of working Arab Americans are employed in managerial, professional, technical, sales or administrative fields. Most Arab Americans work in the private sector (88%), while 12% are government employees. Median income for Arab American households is $56,433 compared with $51,914 for all households in the United States. 


Arab American Employment Distribution


Custom Research on Arab Americans

The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) is available to provide custom research requests regarding inquiries to locate population concentrations and characteristics of Americans with Arab ancestry.

Our Census Information Center (CIC) conducts research on the Arab American population using data available from the Census Bureau and projections based on other surveys by reputable scholars and organizations such as Zogby International. We have access to current population data at various geographic levels as well as figures pertaining to socio-economic characteristics.

Please find a comprehensive list of the products and services available on our Custom Research requests page.

comments powered by Disqus