Arab Americans


Full State Profiles (PDF):
Massachusetts Michigan
New Jersey
New York


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 percent 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.

*Excludes persons who identify as Chaldeans, Assyrians, or other Christian minorities in Iraq.

* * Includes those from Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Does not include persons from Sudan, Somalia, or Mauritania.

From 2000 US Census Sample Data.


Arab American Ancestry Map (Census 2000) (PDF)

Arab American Population Highlights (PDF)

Lebanese American Profile

Palestinian American Profile

Population Estimates of Americans of Iraqi/Chaldean Ancestry

At least 3.5 million* Americans are of Arab descent. 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. Los Angeles, Detroit, New York/NJ, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are the top five 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.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 4.


Arab Americans with at least a high school diploma number 85 percent. More than four out of ten Americans of Arab decent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 24% of Americans at large. Seventeen percent of Arab Americans have a post-graduate degree, which is nearly twice the American average (9%).

Of the school-age population, 13% are in pre-school, 58% are in elementary or high school, 22% are enrolled in college, and 7% are conducting graduate studies.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 4.


Similar to the national average, about 64 percent of Arab American adults are in the labor force; with 5 percent unemployed. Seventy three percent of working Arab Americans are employed in managerial, professional, technical, sales or administrative fields. Nearly half as many Americans of Arab decent are employed in service jobs (12%) in relation to Americans overall (27%). Most Arab Americans work in the private sector (88 ), while 12 percent are government employees.

Occupation Breakdown for Arab Ancestry and U.S. Population Totals
(Employed Civilian Population 16 years and older)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 4.


Median income for Arab American households in 1999 was $47,000 compared with $42,000 for all households in the United States. Close to 30 of Americans of Arab heritage have an annual household income of more than $75,000, while 22% of all Americans reported the same level of income. Mean income measured at 8% higher than that national average of $56,644.

Income (1999) by Arab Ancestry and U.S. Total Population

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 4.


The majority of Arab Americans are Christian.

Religious Affiliations of Arab Americans
Based on Zogby International Survey (2002)

*Catholic include Roman Catholic, Maronite, and Melkite (Greek Catholic)

**Muslim includes Sunni, Shi’a, and Druze

***Orthodox includes Antiochian, Syrian, Greek, and Coptic

*Every ten years, the Census takes the demographic pulse of the population, collecting information ranging from family size and citizenship to education, income, and occupation. A question on “ancestry” or ethnic origin gives us a snapshot of that segment of the country, which identifies with an Arabic-speaking origin.

Historically, only a portion of this population self-identifies with an Arab ancestry, resulting in a numeric undercount by a factor of about 3. Limitations of the sampling methodology, combined with non-response by some, under-response (only two ethnic backgrounds are tabulated and reported), and reporting ancestry as race, results in relatively higher under reporting among Arab Americans. While the 2000 Census accounted for some 1.25 million persons who self-identify with an Arabic-speaking origin, our estimates (based on research done by the Zogby International polling and marketing firm) place the population at more than 3.5 million.

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 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.

More Information

For more information, please contact:
Yasmeen Shaheen-McConnell
subject: research

For customized research requests, please visit here.