Demographic Profile of the West Michigan Korean Community

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About the profiles

Most of the demographic and economic information about the Korean community is from the American Community Survey (ACS). Every month since 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau has contacted millions of households across the country to participate in the ACS. Every year, between 2.4 and 2.7 percent of all Michigan households are successfully surveyed or interviewed. The group quarters population is also contacted and enumerated.

Persons who marked only Korean are “Korean alone.” Those that that marked Korean and any other race boxes are “Korean in any combination” or “Mixed Korean.”  Together, they are “Korean alone or in any combination.” Unless otherwise noted, the information on these pages uses “Korean” to indicate “Korean alone or in any combination.” 

For small geographies and racial/ethnic groups, 5 years are needed to accumulate enough survey data to achieve robust data estimates with reasonable statistical reliability. The Census Bureau provides detailed data for race and ethnic groups from the 2006-2010 and for 2011-2015 ACS returns. Most data in this profile is obtained from the 2011-2015 ACS, which represents a sampling of about 12% of the population over the five-year period. This rate varies among different geographies and populations. 

The geographic distribution is based on the 2013-2017 ACS. This provides more recent total population information, but without further details.

The population pyramids are based on the 2010 Decennial Census, rather than the ACS. Thus, the age/sex cohorts, which are each rather small, are not based on a sample, but on 100% census data. Because of the way the Census form asks the “race” question, various Asian populations can be identified in the Decennial Census, providing a more reliable age and sex profile than the ACS. However, the Decennial Census does not provide many more details.

he ACS race question identifies Koreans.

The race question on the ACS identifies Koreans. Download complete 2019 survey [PDF - 430 KB]

Use this app to find explanations of other terms and concepts used in the American Community Survey and the Decennial Census. 

Margin of Error (MOE)

On all data tables, the MOE is provided. These are obtained from the Census Bureau or are calculated for derived estimates using formulas recommended by the Census Bureau. The 90% confidence interval is between the provided estimate minus the MOE and the estimate plus the MOE. For example, if the estimate is 120 persons with an MOE of 5 persons, the 90% confidence interval for this estimate is 115-125.

As this report provides data on many small populations, the MOE is often very large. The data does not meet the standards of social scientific research. The user is especially cautioned not to apply meaning to small difference between groups or small changes over time. In addition, nonsampling error, such as avoidance of a government survey and misunderstandings cause by language difficulties, can diminish the reliability of the results.

However, the data can provide important insights into the characteristics of specific populations, regardless of the confidence interval. Users should seek corroborating evidence beyond the statistics before reaching definitive conclusions. 


Download "Using American Community Survey Estimates and Margins of Error" [PDF - 1.2 MB]

Defining "West Michigan"

“West Michigan” is not a term used by the Census Bureau. It is used here as shorthand for the metropolitan area defined in 2013 as the Grand Rapids-Wyoming-Muskegon Consolidated Statistical Area (Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Mecosta County, Montcalm, Muskegon, & Ottawa Counties)

The population pyramids are based on a previous (2003) definition of the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland Combined Statistical Area (Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo & Ottawa Counties).

In 2018, the metropolitan area was revised again, becoming the Grand Rapids-Kentwood-Muskegon Combined Statistical Area (Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo & Ottawa Counties). This definition is not used in this report. Note that the Asian populations of the counties that have entered (Mecosta, Montcalm) or left (Barry, Newaygo) the definition of the CSA are very small.


Grand Rapids-Wyoming-Muskegon Consolidated Statistical Area. Reference map from the Right Place [PDF - 1.0 MB]