Jae C. Hong, Associated Press
The Old Chinatown Central Plaza is reflected in the window of a restaurant in the Chinatown section of Los Angeles, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. America's historic Chinatowns, home for a century to immigrants seeking social support and refuge from racism, are mostly fading as rising city costs, jobs elsewhere and a desire for wider spaces lure Asian-Americans more than ever to the suburbs.

WASHINGTON — America's historic Chinatowns are fading.

Rising living costs and a desire for wider spaces are luring Asian-Americans to the suburbs. As the Lunar New Year begins Monday, signs of decline are evident from Washington to Houston and Los Angeles.

Census figures show about 62 percent of Asian-Americans in the nation's large metropolitan areas live in the suburbs. That's the highest ever, up from 54 percent in 1990.

Demographers say many Asian-Americans continue to see suburban living as the American dream. The result is that many urban Chinatowns now are declining, serving as destinations primarily for newly arrived immigrants with less education or lower skills.