As Minnesota grows, its diversity remains concentrated

All Minnesota counties and school districts as well as most cities grew more diverse over the past decade, recent data from the 2020 U.S. Census show.

People of color now make up nearly 24 percent of Minnesota’s 5.7 million residents, up from about 15 percent of the state population a decade ago. The demographic changes were driven by growing populations of Black, Asian, Hispanic and multiracial residents, while the number of white Minnesotans declined for the first time in state history.

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest trove of data from the 2020 population count — giving Minnesota its most detailed image of itself to date. The most recent numbers focused on broad racial groups; more nuanced data is expected to be released in September.

A Pioneer Press analysis of the latest data found:

  • Minnesota grew by about 7.6 percent, or about 402,000 residents, and that growth was concentrated in the Twin Cities and its suburbs.
  • The state’s growth was spurred by racial and ethnic minorities, with St. Paul and its more than 311,000 residents becoming the state’s largest city where people or color are the majority.
  • Ramsey County grew to 552,352 people and its overall diversity now mirrors the rest of the nation more so than most of Minnesota.
  • Minnesota’s changing demographics are expected to continue with 36 percent of its school-age children people of color.

Statewide, Blacks were the fastest growing individual group, increasing by about 46 percent, followed by Asians and Hispanics, which grew at 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively, since the last decennial count of residents in 2010. Minnesotans identifying as multiracial jumped 128 percent while those who chose “some other race” climbed by more than 250 percent.

The state’s American Indian population grew more slowly, adding about 1,600 residents. The state’s white population was the only one of the racial and ethnic groups measured to drop, losing about 51,000 people since 2010.

The 10-year count of residents has been conducted nationally since 1790 and was first done here in 1850 when Minnesota was still a territory. The results are used to ensure legislative districts are drawn fairly and government funding is distributed equitably.

GROWING, BUT NOT EVERYWHERE

Minnesota’s population growth and its changing racial and ethnic demographics reflect larger trends happening across the U.S. And like much of the nation, Minnesota’s growth is uneven.

While every Minnesota county grew more diverse between 2010 and 2020, only 50 counties saw their total populations increase. In general, urban and suburban communities saw population gains and rural areas saw fewer residents, although the declines were often small.

For instance, Koochiching County on the Canadian border lost 9 percent of its population over the last decade, but that translates to only about 1,250 fewer people in a county of about 12,000 residents. In contrast, Hennepin County added nearly 130,000 residents, an 11 percent growth in population, and is now home to more than 1.2 million, or about 21 percent of the entire state population.

Ramsey County added nearly 44,000 residents, or 8.6 percent, the slowest of the metro counties, and is the Twin Cities’ most diverse.

Forty-two percent of Ramsey County residents are people of color, with Asians and Blacks the two largest racial groups after whites.

Ramsey County also is home to some of the state’s more diverse cities, including St. Paul, which now has more residents of color than whites.

Yet, Ramsey County and St. Paul are outliers compared with much of the state.

There are 73 Minnesota counties where residents of color make up less than 20 percent of the overall population. Mahnomen County, home of the White Earth Indian Reservation, is the only county in the state where residents of color are a majority.

Minnesota cities are similar. St. Paul is one of just a handful where residents of color are the majority — others include Brooklyn Center, Worthington and Brooklyn Park. Of the more than 900 cities and towns in the state, 747 of them have populations that are 80 percent or more white.

Finally, Minnesota remains considerably less diverse than much of the U.S.

The 2020 U.S. Census shows the nation is about 58 percent white with Latinos the second-largest demographic group at 19 percent of the population.

Black and Asian residents make up 12 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of U.S. residents while 4 percent are multiracial.

THE FUTURE IS EVEN MORE SO

Minnesota, like much of the U.S., is almost guaranteed to continue to diversify, but that demographic change will continue to be largely isolated to urban and suburban areas.

The population of the state under the age of 18 is about 64 percent white, significantly less than Minnesota as a whole. More than a third of Minnesota school-age children are people of color.

Yet, that diversity is largely concentrated in the Twin Cities and other pockets of the state. For instance, the under-18 population of St. Paul schools is 28 percent Asian, 26 percent white, 23 percent Black and 13 percent Hispanic.

Yet, there are only 20 Minnesota school districts where the white student-age population is less than 50 percent. In 212 of the state’s more than 300 districts, white residents make up at least 80 percent of the school-age population.

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