MINNEAPOLIS -- New 2010 census figures show Minnesota's Hispanic population jumped 74.5 percent in the past decade, mirroring a national trend. That group was the fastest growing ethnic minority, followed by African Americans at 59.8 percent.
The entire population of the state grew by 7.8 percent during that same period. The number of persons who checked multiple boxes in the racial section of the census increased 50 percent in Minnesota since 2000.
"We're becoming a more diverse state," State Demographer Tom Gillaspy told KARE, "That said, we're still one of the least diverse states in the country."
Overall 17 percent of Minnesotans surveyed by the Census Bureau in 2010 identified themselves as something other than white. In 2000 that figure was 12 percent. The minority makeup of the nation as a whole is now roughly 33 percent.
Gillaspy said the 250,258 Hispanics reported in the 2010 Census account for 4.7 percent of state's current population of 5.3 million. That's up from about 3 percent in 2000. African Americans account for 5.1 percent of the state's population.
"Race is a self-defined concept in the United States," Gillaspy explained, "The Census taker is not trying to tell people what their race is."
Gillaspy points out that race and ethnicity are two different types of measurements. Some Latinos check the "white" box on the census, while others pick the "other" box or multiple boxes, which is allowed.
"A Hispanic person can be of any race," Gillaspy told KARE Wednesday, "But of course this confuses people quite a bit. You ask, 'What race are you?' And they say, 'Well, I'm Chicano' or 'I'm Latino.' And you say, 'That's not a race' and you get this puzzled look."
All of the racial and ethnic statistics from Minnesota's 2010 Census are available on the state Demographer's website. That data was released by the U.S. Census Bureau Wednesday afternoon. Income, age and household data is yet to be released.
Similar increases in the Latino portion of the population were seen across the Midwest, notably 74 percent in Wisconsin, 84 percent in Iowa and 59 percent in Kansas.
Move to the Suburbs
Gillapsy said the highest growth counties were generally in the suburbs and exurbs that form a ring or collar around the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. Gillapsy says most of the growth occurred in the first half of the decade, before the housing slump and recession.
"Otherwise that migration to the suburbs would've been even more pronounced than it was," he said, "But you reach a point that if you're not working you're not buying a new house an moving out into those areas."
There is also a browsable state map on the State Demographer's site which has a county by county breakdown of population changes in Minnesota figures between 2000 and 2010.
Five of those suburban counties grew an average of 23 percent since 2000. They were among the fastest growing counties in the nation, which bucked a national trend. Most counties with that type of rapid expansion were in south and west.
Anoka County grew 11 percent, Carver County 30 percent, Dakota County 12 percent, Scott County 45 percent and Washington County 18 percent.
The growth in those five counties alone accounted for about 45 percent of the state's 384,000 population boost during that decade.
Impact on Political Boundaries
Because of that shift away from the cities and rural Minnesota and into the suburbs and exurbs, most of Minnesota's eight congressional districts are out of alignment with the equal population rule.
By law those districts should each contain 662,990 people. The 6th District, now represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann, and the 2nd District, held by Rep. John Kline, are both significantly overpopulated and will have to yield territory.
"Congressman Bachmann's district is about 96,000 people too large, so it's going to have to get a lot smaller," Gillapsy explained.
"And Congressman Kline's is not quite that larger, but it's going to have to get substantially smaller. It's about 69,000 over equal size."
The district by district breakdown in Minnesota shows that the Rep. Erik Paulsen's 3rd District, Rep. Chip Cravaack's 8th District and Rep. Tim Walz's 1st District are fairly close already to the ideal size.
Rep. Keith Ellison's 5th District, Rep. Betty McCollum's 4th District and Rep. Colin Peterson's 7th District are all significantly underpopulated now and will need to expand to pick up more people.
The same suburban shift is also reflected in the state senate district population data released Wednesday, with many urban and rural districts experiencing a net loss. The same pattern held for the house district data contained in the same information sets.
New political boundaries must be drawn in time for the 2012 election. That job of redoing the state's political maps falls to the legislature and the governor, but every Minnesota redistricting plan since the 1960's has gone to the court system for a final settlement.
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