Older, More Diverse MN Facing Troubling Economy

State’s population is growing older and more educated, but with a weaker economy.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Minnesota has been undergoing a very poor economic recovery, one which has led to growing racial disparities in an increasingly diverse Minnesota.

The Census Bureau reports that Minnesotans, as a whole, now have a per capita income of $32,157. While this is the ninth highest in the country, it is still lower than it was in 2010. MPR reports that whites in the state have wages of $36,008 annually, an increase of only $118 since 2010 and the end of the late-2007 to mid-2009 Great Recession. Minority populations in the state have actually seen a decrease in their incomes over the past five years, and are bringing in less money than their counterparts in the nation as a whole.

This is especially worrying as minorities now make up a larger (though still small) part of the state’s population than ever before. Non-Hispanic whites make up 81 percent of the population, but that is down from 83.1 percent in 2010. People of African descent are about six percent of Minnesota’s population, Asians 4.9 percent, Hispanics 5.2 percent, and American Indians about 1.3 percent.

All of these economic issues have arisen, despite increased rates of education in Minnesota. Of people 25 years or older, 92.4 percent have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. More than one third of these people also have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

More bad news for Minnesota’s economy comes in the age breakdown of the state. Minnesota is continuing to grow older, weakening the size of future work forces. People aged 65 or older now make up 14.7 percent of the population, up from 12.9 percent in 2010. People under 18 years old are now 23.4 percent of the population, down from 24.2 in 2010.

“We really haven’t experienced a demographic change of this magnitude for some time,” Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower told MPR,”It will have impact on labor force, it will have impact on public budgets and a number of different domains of life.”

As a result of these changes, the median age increased by seven months to 37.7 years, reports MPR.

An aging workforce putting a larger burden of demand for public funds will continue to make Minnesota’s journey to full economic recovery an even harder one.

Anders Koskinen