The organization seeks to increase the visibility of Arab-American involvement and candidates in the American political system. They issue "Action Alerts" to their members much like the Anti-defamation League when issues of particular concern arise. According to their website they encourage their members to contact members of congress and they develop policy initiatives much in the manner of a think tank.
The AAI has been designated by the United States Census Bureau as the only Census Information Center for compiling data on Arab-Americans. According to AAI statistics, only a portion of the population in the Census 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 1,250,000 persons who self-identify with an Arabic-speaking origin, AAI estimates (based on research done by the Zogby International polling and marketing firm) place the population at more than 3,500,000. They live in all 50 states -- the top 11 by population are (in descending order):
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 City, Chicago and Washington, DC, are the top 5 US metro-areas of Arab-American concentration. Lebanese-Americans constitute a greater part of the total number of Arab-Americans residing in most states; however, in New Jersey, Egyptian-Americans are the largest Arab group. The AAI believes that Americans of Arab ethnicity were underrepresented in the 2000 National Census as are most "other ethnic, minority, and immigrant populations" and believes that this undercount occurs because many Arab-Americans simply "do not understand the relevance of the census, its confidentiality, or did not respond to the question on the sample "long form" that measures ethnic ancestry."
Arab-Americans with at least a high school diploma number 85%. More than 4 out of 10 Americans of Arab descent 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. 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 descent are employed in service jobs(12%)in relation to Americans overall(27%). Most Arab-Americans work in the private sector (88%), while 12% are government employees. 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.
The AAI also conducts research related to anti-Arabism in the United States. According to an AAI 2001 poll of Arab-Americans: "32% of Arab Americans reported having been subjected to some form of ethnic-based discrimination during their lifetimes, 20% reported having experienced an instance of ethnic-based discrimination since September 11. Of special concern, for example, is the fact that 45% of students and 37% of Arab Americans of the Muslim faith report being targeted by discrimination since September 11.
In collaboration with Zogby International, the AAI conducts yearly polls of Arab Public Opinion Regarding the United States.