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Demographics of Minnesota


Demographics of Minnesota

Minnesota's population distribution

The United States Census Bureau counted Minnesota's population at 5,303,925 in the 2010 Census.[3]


  • Population 1
    • Age distribution 1.1
  • Location 2
    • The 15 most populous counties (2013) 2.1
  • Race and ancestry 3
  • Immigration 4
  • Language 5
  • Religion 6
  • Education 7
  • Occupation 8
  • Income 9
  • Home ownership 10
  • Marital status 11
  • References 12
  • Further reading 13


From fewer than 6,100 people in 1850, Minnesota's population grew to over 1.75 million by 1900. Each of the next six decades saw a 15.0% rise in population, reaching 3.41 million in 1960. Growth then slowed, rising 11.0% to 3.8 million in 1970, and an average of 9.0% over the next three decades to 4.91 million in the 2000 census.[4] The rate of population change, and age and gender distributions, approximate the national average. Minnesota's growing minority groups, however, still form a significantly smaller proportion of the population than in the nation as a whole.[5] The center of population of Minnesota is located in Hennepin County, in the city of Rogers.[6]

Age distribution

The population distribution by age in the 2005–2007 American Community Survey was:

  • Under 5 years: 6.7%
  • 5–9 years: 6.5%
  • 10–14 years: 6.9%
  • 15–19 years: 7.3%
  • 20–24 years: 7.0%
  • 25–34 years: 13.0%
  • 35–44 years: 14.7%
  • 45–54 years: 15.3%
  • 55–59 years: 6.0%
  • 60–64 years: 4.4%
  • 65–74 years: 6.0%
  • 75–84 years: 4.3%
  • 85 years and over: 1.9%

The median age was 36.9 years.


Approximately 60.0% of the state's population lives within the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and 40.0% in the remainder of the state, which is a result of the migration of jobs from farming, mining, and logging, prevalent in the 19th century, to the current concentration in professional, office, and service jobs, concentrated in the metropolitan areas.

The 15 most populous counties (2013)[7]

Minnesota's most populous counties
County Seat Projected Population % Gain since 2010
Hennepin Minneapolis 1,198,778 +4.0
Ramsey Saint Paul 526,714 +3.6
Dakota Hastings 408,509 +2.5
Anoka Anoka 339,534 +2.6
Washington Stillwater 246,603 +3.6
St. Louis Duluth 200,540 +0.2
Stearns St Cloud 152,092 +1.0
Olmsted Rochester 149,226 +3.5
Scott Shakopee 137,232 +5.6
Wright Buffalo 128,470 +3.0
Carver Chaska 95,562 +5.0
Sherburne Elk River 90,158 +1.9
Blue Earth Mankato 65,528 +2.4
Rice Faribault 65,049 +1.4
Crow Wing Brainerd 63,208 +1.1

Race and ancestry

Over 75.0% of Minnesota's residents are of European descent, with the largest reported ancestries being German (38.6%), Norwegian (17.0%), Irish (11.9%), and Swedish (9.8%). The state has had the reputation of being relatively racially homogeneous, but that is changing. The Hispanic population of Minnesota is increasing rapidly,[8] and recent immigrants have come from all over the world, including Hmong,[9] Somalis, Vietnamese, and emigrants from the former Soviet bloc.

Minnesota Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[10] 2000[11] 2010[12]
White 94.4% 89.4% 85.3%
Black 2.2% 3.5% 5.2%
Asian 1.8% 2.9% 4.0%
Native 1.1% 1.1% 1.2%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
- - -
Other race 0.5% 1.3% 1.9%
Two or more races - 1.7% 2.4%


Immigration to Minnesota was fueled by the efforts of railroad companies and civic boosters who published books explaining Minnesota's virtues. New Minnesotans also sent letters back to the "old country" explaining the new hope and prosperity they had found in Minnesota. The first major wave of immigration, in the 1860s and 1870s, was primarily from Germany[13] and Ireland, and most settlers moved to farming areas in the central and southern regions of the state. Germans composed the largest immigrant group to Minnesota. When World War I started, 70% of the population was either foreign-born or had at least one parent born outside the United States. Of that number, more than one fourth were Germans. New Ulm, Saint Cloud, and Shakopee were particular centers of German immigration. Scandinavians from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark followed, but they tended to settle in distinctive communities of Norwegian, Swedish, Finish, and Danish groups instead of common Scandinavian communities. Irish immigrants were the fourth largest group after the Germans, Swedes, and Norwegians, many of whom came as a result of the potato famine. Others were encouraged to immigrate by Archbishop John Ireland. The Irish concentrated in Saint Paul. Later, southern and eastern Europeans became the dominant group immigrating to the United States, and they tended to settle in the Twin Cities, Duluth, and the Iron Range. The Mesabi Range was especially popular among eastern Europeans, who found employment in the iron mines. With extraordinary encouragement from Walter Mondale, Hmong and Vietnamese immigrants started to come to Minnesota around the mid-1970s as the pro-American governments in their home countries collapsed.[14][15] As of 2004, there were an estimated 60,000 Hmong in Minnesota, with businesses that generated about $100 million in revenue.[16]

In the mid-1990s, Somali immigrants began to settle in the United States as political turmoil occurred in Somalia; Minnesota became one of the prime destinations. As of 2002, official estimates put the population at around 15,000 residents.[16] Minnesota's VOLAGs, which contract with the federal government, attracted Somali and Hmong refugees. Because of the social and governmental institutions in Minnesota, about 30,000 of the Somali populations stayed. In a 25-year period up till 2011, 84,000 Somali refugees went to the U.S. About 40% of them live in the State of Minnesota.[17] By 2006, Somalis in Minnesota accounted for $164–$394 million in purchasing power and owned 600 businesses.[18]

One of the fastest growing immigrant groups in Minnesota is the Karen people, an ethnic minority in conflict with the government in Myanmar. Most of the estimated 5,000 Karen in Minnesota came from refugee camps in Thailand.[19]


In the year 2007, 90.4% of Minnesota's population 5 years and over spoke only English at home. The remaining 9.6% spoke a language other than English at home. About 3.4% of Minnesota's population spoke Spanish or Spanish Creole at home. In addition, 2.1% of the population spoke an Indo-European language at home. About 2.6% of Minnesota's population spoke an Asian language or a Pacific Island language at home. And the remaining 1.5% spoke a different language at home.


The Cathedral of St. Paul in the city of St. Paul.

Although Christianity dominates the religious persuasion of residents, there is a long history of non-Christian faith. German-Jewish pioneers formed Saint Paul's first synagogue in 1856,[20] and there are now appreciable numbers of adherents to Islam, Buddhism, and other traditions. But Protestantism is adhered to by the majority of Minnesotans, and Roman Catholics are the largest single denomination.

A 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that 32.0% of Minnesotans were affiliated with Mainline Protestant traditions, 21.0% with Evangelical Protestant traditions, 28.0% with Roman Catholic traditions, 1.0% each with Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Black Protestant traditions, smaller amounts for other faiths, and 13.0% unaffiliated.[21] This is broadly consistent with a 2001 survey, which indicated that 25.0% of Minnesota's population was Roman Catholic, and 24.0% was Lutheran with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 853,448; and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod with 203,863 adherents.[22] Other religious groups represented were Baptists (5.0%), Methodists (4.0%), Presbyterians (2.0%), the Assembly of God (2.0%), and the Church of God (2.0%). Christians with unstated or other denominational affiliations, including other Mainline Protestants, totaled 13.0%, bringing the total Christian population to 77.0%. Non-Christian religions, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, together represented 3.0% of the population. 14.0% of respondents were irreligious according to the survey, and 6.0% refused to answer.[23] As of 2000, the RCMS[24] reported that the Catholic Church had the highest number of adherents in Minnesota (at 1,260,660), followed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with 853,448 members reported and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, reporting 203,863 adherents.

In 2006, Minnesota became the first state in the US to select a Muslim representative to Congress.


Minnesota ranks near the top in terms of an educated populace, boasting that 91.3% of adult residents 25 years or older have achieved a high school diploma, and 31.4% have earned a bachelor's degree or higher.[25] In fall 2010, approximately 71 percent of Minnesota high school graduates enrolled in a postsecondary institution the fall following graduation.[26] The number of high school graduates in Minnesota is projected to decline over the next seven years from 65,073 in 2010 to 59,727 by 2017, a drop of 5,346 students.[27] The number of nonwhite graduates is projected to grow by 4,713 students, from 16 percent of all graduates in 2010 to 23 percent of all graduates in 13 years. During the same period, the number of white graduates is projected to decline 12 percent, or by 6,511 students.[27] Many Minnesota adults pursue higher education in one of the state-supported colleges or Universities. These include those in the University of Minnesota system, which had 68,418 enrollees in 2012,[28] and MnSCU which had 433,639 students in the 09-10 school year.[29]


Wabasha—a typical small-town streetscape

The state continues to transform from an agricultural and natural resource-based economy to a high-tech and financial services-based one. Minnesota ranks 2nd in the nation, with 72.2% of adults in the labor force and 5.5% are unemployed. Occupations estimated in 2005 are:

  • Management/professional 36.0%
  • Sales and other office 26.0%
  • Service 15.0%
  • Manufacturing/production/transportation 13.0%
  • Construction/mining/maintenance/repair 9.0%
  • Farming/logging/fishing 1.0%

Veterans of the armed forces account for 10.8% of the adult population, which is 40th in the nation. Adults with disabilities total 12.2% of the population.


In 2011 the three-year average median household income in the state was $56,869, 12th highest statewide average in the nation. In contrast, 9.8% of individuals live below the poverty line, ranking 44th in the nation.

Home ownership

Minnesota ranks first in the nation in owner-occupied home ownership, with 75.8% of residents living in their own home, with an average mortgage payment of $1,351 per month. About 24.0% are tenants.

Marital status

The average adult Minnesotan is married, although the numbers are shrinking. In 2007, 53.7% of Minnesotans over the age of 15 were married. People who were widowed made up 5.5% and people who were divorced made up 9.5%. People who were separated made up a mere 1.2% and people who were never married made up the remaining 30.1%. In the year 2005, 56.0% of people aged over 15 were married and people who were never married made up 28.6%. This shows that the percentage of people who are married is declining while the percentage of people who have never been married is on the rise.


  1. ^ Resident Population Data. "Resident Population Data – 2010 Census". Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014" (CSV).  
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Environmental Information Report, App. D Socioeconomic Information" (PDF). Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 2003-05-30. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  5. ^ "Minnesota QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  6. ^ "statecenters". U.S. Census Bureau. 2000. Retrieved 2006-11-21. 
  7. ^ Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013 American Fact Finder, U.S. Bureau of the Census
  8. ^ "Minnesota Population Projections by Race and Hispanic Origin" (PDF). Minnesota Department of Administration. 2004. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  9. ^ "Modern Language Ass'n List of Hmong Language speakers by State using 2000 census data; Minnesota is third in the nation". Modern Language Association. 2004. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  10. ^ Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, For The United States, Regions, Divisions, and States
  11. ^ Population of Minnesota: Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts
  12. ^ 2010 Census Data
  13. ^ "German Migration to Minnesota". Minnesota State University Anthropology Department. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  14. ^ Lass, William E. (1998) [1977]. Minnesota: A History (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.  
  15. ^ Henderson, O.Kay (2007). """Mondale, Ray join to remember rescue of "boat people. Radio Iowa. Learfield Communications, Inc. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  16. ^ a b New Americans in the North Star State
  17. ^ "Good Question: Why Did Somalis Locate Here?" Minnesota CBS. January 19, 2011. Retrieved on November 2, 2011.
  18. ^ Economic Contributions of Somalis in Minnesota
  19. ^ Immigrants blend Christmas traditions from home and America
  20. ^ Gilman, Rhonda R. (1989). The Story of Minnesota's Past. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 99.  
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "American Religious Identification Survey". Exhibit 15. The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  24. ^ "State Membership Reports". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  25. ^ "Minnesota Quickfacts". US Census. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  26. ^ "Facts About High School Graduates". MN Office of Higher Education. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  27. ^ a b "High School Graduate Projections". Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  28. ^ "Campus and Unit Enrollment by Academic Level for Fall 2012". University of Minnesota. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  29. ^ "Enrollment Facts" (PDF). Amazing Facts. MNSCU. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 

Further reading

  • "Asian Pacific Islander Nonprofit Economy Report" (Archive). Minnesota Council of Arts. 2006. - Discusses nonprofit organizations established in the Asian American community.
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