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Good Question: How Diverse Is Minnesota?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the land of lutefisk and Uff-da, it appears there are fewer Sven and Oles. According to new data released by the U.S. Census, the faces of Minnesota are changing.

“My family is German, Bohemian and Irish,” said Kaitlyn Brown of Brooklyn Park.

“I’m Hmong. My parents are from Laos,” said Xia Yang of St. Paul.

Overall, Minnesota is less diverse compared to other states, but the population of color is the fastest-growing.

“Statewide, we’ve seen the fastest growth among the Mexican population, but we’ve also seen tremendous growth among Asian Indians, Somalis and other East African groups, like Ethiopians,” said Susan Brower, the state demographer.

What makes Minnesota unique in this aspect is the diversity of its foreign born population.

“We have a large share of folks from all around the globe,” Brower said. She attributes that partly to a larger than average refugee population.

According to the U.S. Census, 10 percent of Minnesotans in the 13-county metro area were born in another country – 41.4 percent from Asia, 25.6 percent from Latin America, 20 percent from Africa, 11.5 percent from Europe and 2.6 percent from North America.

Of those people who were born in the US, 72 percent were born in Minnesota. The other 28 percent were born in another state – usually North Dakota, Wisconsin or Iowa.

“It can be difficult to get people here because of our weather,” Brower said. “But once they come here, they tend to stay.”

She says Minnesota has one of the top retention rates in the country for college-educated people.

The ethnicity Minnesotans most identify with is German at 32.2 percent. Norwegian is second with 13.4 percent, Irish at 12.2 percent, Swedish at 9.2 percent and English at 5.9 percent. All are slightly down from five years ago.

“Both because that population is declining, and also because as we get into younger generations, they tend to identify less with a single ancestry group,” Brower said.

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