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About half of Hmong today live in the Midwest, mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, compared to 41 percent in 1990.Meanwhile, the proportion of Hmong in the Western states fell to 42 percent in 2000 from 55 percent in 1990.Some of this can be explained by the Hmong's traditional farming roots.As a result, Hmong households average more than six persons per house or apartment in Minnesota and Wisconsin, compared to about 2.5 persons among the entire population.And the United States' first Hmong politician, a 32-year-old female lawyer named Mee Moua, was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 2002.The Hmong came to America less-prepared for the modern capitalistic society of their new home than most other immigrant groups.
Many Hmong escaped Laos to Thailand where they were incarcerated in refugee camps.But there is a substantial emerging class of Hmong small business owners -- many of them congregated near St.Paul's University Avenue -- and college-educated Hmong professionals going into fields like law, medicine, and non-profit management.These reasons led to a massive shift of the Hmong population in the mid-to- late 1980s to central California cities like Fresno, Stockton, and Merced, and to a lesser extent, to Minnesota and Wisconsin.The 2000 Census counted 186,310 Hmong Americans across the U. (single race or part-Hmong), representing a nearly 90 percent increase in the population from 1990.
Also, Hmong immigration based on family reunification remains low, especially compared to other Southeast Asian ethnic groups.