Jaikishan Jalan and his wife Sonam Agarwal live in a nice apartment downtown, just a block from his office at Microsoft. Evening sunlight comes through the balcony sliding-glass door; savory aromas of Indian cooking come from the kitchen.
|Representing two of Bellevue's most notable population trends -- surges in minorities and downtown residents -- Jalan and Agarwal are featured in this month's issue of the resident newsletter It's Your City. Other topics include South Bellevue annexation and redevelopment of the Kelsey Creek Center.|
When Jalan is not working, the couple, both 26, go on hikes or see movies.
"Bellevue is a beautiful place and the people are very friendly," Agarwal says of the city she and her husband have called home for a little over a year. The lakes and mountains around the city are a glorious contrast from the hot, sometimes dusty parts of India where Agarwal and Jalan were born and raised.
Like many in Bellevue, Jalan and Agarwal appreciate the city's urban flavor and low crime. Like a rising number of people here, they were not born in the United States. Moving from Iowa to Bellevue for a tech job, Jalan and his wife neatly represent the city's most notable population trends -- surges in minorities and downtown residents.
According to the 2010 census, minorities now comprise 41 percent of Bellevue's population, up from 28 percent in 2000. Now Asians alone account for nearly 28 percent of the city's population, the highest share of any city in the state.
The construction boom downtown, which included several high-rise condominiums and apartment buildings, transformed the neighborhood from a primarily commercial district to a home for more than 7,000 people, nearly triple the downtown population in 2000.
"Bellevue's population continues to become more diverse and cosmopolitan." said Dan Stroh, planning director for the past 10 years. "People from many backgrounds moving to Bellevue expand our horizons socially and culturally. Plus, this situates us really well in today's
The statistics may be eye-popping, but the people behind them reflect more about the intersection of Bellevue's burst of high-tech jobs with a technically trained workforce from India and China than a yearning among Asians to move to the Northwest.
After earning a master's degree in computer science from Iowa State University, Jalan says he took a job offer from Microsoft simply because it offered the best possibility for career advancement. He was unfamiliar with Bellevue then.
Although they are sold on the city now, and are open to possibilities, ultimately they expect to move back to India
Not so for Chijen and Shuangyu Lin, who live in a retirement center in Crossroads. They have no intention of leaving Bellevue.
"I am an American," Chijen says proudly in broken English, just weeks after gaining U.S. citizenship. "This is my honor."
The Lins, both 87, moved to Bellevue from Taiwan in 2006 to be with their son Ho-Na. Ho-Na, a civil engineer, moved to Redmond seven years ago, after attending college in Maryland. He is married with two children, one a recent college graduate, the second, a freshman in college.
Chijen had his doubts about Bellevue, but found the city to be surprisingly diverse, with convenient facilities and transportation. He likes to take the bus to libraries around the area and his wife participates in events at the Asian Senior Concerns Foundation, an activity center in Crossroads for Asian retirees.
Generalizations about Asians in Bellevue are tricky. Just among those in high-tech jobs, some are here on work visas and may eventually return to their homelands while others have established their careers in the U.S. and have become American citizens or are working toward that.
While some Asians live downtown, many are concentrated in the Crossroads or South Bellevue areas.
The 2010 census and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, another Census Bureau document, offer a wealth of data that provide a good picture of Bellevue. Details, including population trends by neighborhood, are available at Demographics.
Among the notable trends identified in the census and ACS:
- In 2010 Bellevue's population was 122,363, up 11.7 percent from 109,569 in 2000, in line with projections. Bellevue remains the fifth most populous city in the state.
- Bellevue's 2010 Asian population was 33,659, up from 19,011 in 2000.
- Echoing a trend throughout the country, the city's Latino population rose significantly, from 5,827 in 2000 to 8,545 last year.
- The percentage of Bellevue's adults with at least a bachelor's degree continues to grow, from 46 percent in 1990 to 54 percent in 2000 to about 60 percent in 2009.
Bellevue is expected to continue becoming more diverse. The trend, combined with an educated workforce, will attract a wide variety of businesses and economic growth to the city.
"It's got a big city touch, but little visible crime and traffic," Jalan said, summarizing the qualities that draw people of all kinds to Bellevue.
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