Changing Minnesota: 1910 to 2010

Minnesota State Fair, 2006. Photo by Steve Lyon (Creative Commons).

Minnesota's population has more than doubled in the last one hundred years. In 1910, the Census Bureau reported that the state had two million inhabitants. Now, 100 years later, the North Star state has more than 5.2 million inhabitants.

Before 1950, the Census Bureau did not define metropolitan areas such as the Twin Cities. But by using data from IPUMS, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, a comprehensive population database, it is possible to see what the Twin Cities demographics were in 1910 and beyond.

Over the years, the original Native American inhabitants of the state have been joined by immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the onset of the twentieth century, immigrants were mostly European, with immigrant Germans, Swedes and Norwegian, making up about twenty-seven per cent of the population. The number of immigrants one hundred years later is much lower.

Figures from HISTORICAL CENSUS STATISTICS ON THE FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES: 1850 TO 2000

Today, only about 8.7 percent of the Twin Cities metropolitan area population comprises people born outside the United States. The American Community Survey (part of the Census) reports a Twin Cities metropolitan area population of about 3.2 million in 2008, with 281,428 foreign-born residents. While some of these immigrants are European, especially from the former Soviet republics and Yugoslavia, the pool of immigrants today is very diverse. The largest groups come from Laos, Vietnam, India, Somalia, Liberia, Mexico, and Canada. 

Households were larger in 1910 than they are now. The 1910 Census reported that 59.4 percent of all households had more than four inhabitants. Today most households have only two inhabitants and only 39 percent of households have more than four family members living there.

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    Nekessa Opoti

    (Julia) Nekessa Opoti is a Minneapolis based journalist.