Under the Census microscope: Latinos in Minnesota


Minnesota’s Latino population is growing. While the 2000 Census counted 143,382 Minnesotans of Hispanic origin, the American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates for 2006-2008, showed that number had increased to 208,052. The Minnesota State Demographer’s office projects growth to 324,400 in 2015 and 551,600 in 2035. Most are U.S. citizens, most speak English, and most were born in this country.

The first record of Latino residents in Minnesota dates back to 1860, according to the Minneapolis Foundation. According to the American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates for 2006-2008, 208,052 Minnesotans classify themselves as Latino, or about 4 percent of the total population of Minnesota.  Most of the Latinos in Minnesota have family origins in Mexico – about 149,752. In the 2000 Census, 57,573 out of the 143,382 or about 40 percent of Latino residents counted that year were “foreign born.”

As the country waits for the results of the 2010 Centennial Census, we can satisfy some of our curiosity by taking a closer look at some of the information that already is available through the American Community Survey (ACS) and other resources. At TC Daily Planet, we’re going to be taking a look at different communities within Minnesota’s population, and examining how those populations fare in comparison to the state as a whole and to other similar populations nationwide.

9 percent of the Minnesota Latinos counted by ACS in 2006-2008 were naturalized citizens.  32% of Latinos living in Minnesota were not citizens, and the rest were native citizens.  Of the Latino population born outside of the United States, 40.3 percent arrived after 2000, 37.5 percent arrived between 1990 and 1999, and 22.3 percent arrived before 1990.

Some 3.5 percent of Minnesotans speak Spanish at home, but 53.4 percent of this number speak English “very well.”  The total number of Spanish speakers, according to ACS, is roughly 170,238, 47,240 of whom are 5-17 years old, 117,678 of whom are 18-64 years old, and 5,320 of whom are 65 years and over.

The majority of Latinos are between the ages of 5-17 (17.4 percent of the population) and the median age is 37. The average family size for Latinos is the same for the rest of Minnesotans, with an average of 3 people per family. 53.9 percent of Latinos 15 years old or over are married, while 5.5 percent are widowed, 1.1 percent are separated, 8.5 percent are divorced, and 30 percent have never been married.

Finding the numbers

To find figures for Latino Minnesotans in the 2006-2008 ACS survey, go to the 2008 gray box in the center column of the page. Click on “selected population profiles,” which will take you to another page.

On this page select geographic type – state – and Minnesota. Click on “Add” and then on “Next.”

Now you are on the page where you can choose to get a report for any group. Scroll down to “Hispanic or Latino” – or choose any specific national group.

La Raza gives a good analysis of Census and American Community Survey Data (although they have not as yet updated their figures to the most recent release of ACS data). On their Fact Sheet for Minnesota, Minnesota is the state with the 27th-largest Latino population, based on figures from the 2000 Census. La Raza’s report  also says the growth rate of the Latino population in Minnesota ranked ninth in the country based on 2000 Census data.

The Chicano Latino Affairs Council for the State of Minnesota also tracks Census information for Latinos in Minnesota. According to their analysis, which was updated in 2007, The Hispanic/Latino population continues to grow, though not at the same pace that it did during the 1990-2000 decade, when the Hispanic/Latino population increased by 166 percent, from approximately 54,000 persons in 1990 to more than 143,000 in 2000, mainly due, according to CLAC, to “an expansion of the state’s economy and labor demands in the agriculture and meat packing industries, and the service sector.”

The Pew Hispanic Center (PHC), a national research project, provides a helpful interactive map of the United States where you can see how much the Latino population in Minnesota has grown since 1980. PHC also tracks Latinos’ share of the population as well as the percentage growth in different areas in Minnesota as well as across the nation.

PHC also provides analysis of the most recent ACS data. In its Demographic Profile of Hispanics in Minnesota, 2008, PHC reports that the median income for Hispanic households is $41,065, compared to $57,795 for the general Minnesota population. The poverty rate for Hispanics 17 and under is 26 percent, compared to 12.1 percent of the general population. Only 32 percent of Latinos have health insurance, and 53 percent of Latinos own their own homes, according to PHC’s analysis.

Another source of information about Latinos in Minnesota is the Opportunity to Learn Campaign (OLC), which tracks access to educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations. According to their analysis of school enrollments, ACS data, and other factors, only 22 percent of Latino students have access to well-resourced, high performing schools compared to the 31 percent access of white non-Latino students.

For additional information on Latinos in Minnesota, see the State of Minnesota’s Chicano Latino Affairs Council and the office of the Minnesota State Demographer


CORRECTION made 5/17/2010 – Thanks to Andi Egbert of Compass, who noted the discrepancy in incomes and offered a correction: In its Demographic Profile of Hispanics in Minnesota, 2008, PHC reports that the median income for Hispanic households is $41,065, compared to $57,795 for the general Minnesota population. Compass is a Minnesota resource for researchers, which has just launched a new immigration research and resource section.