MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The latest U.S. Census estimates put Minnesota’s population near the 5.5 million mark, with the number of minorities growing four times as fast as whites, according to a local expert.

The census figures from July 2014 show that the state’s population has increased by nearly 3 percent since the 2010 census. All race groups say growth within the past four years, said Andi Egbert, assistant director of the State Demographic Center.

Minorities now account for more than 1 million of the state’s residents, at almost 20 percent of the total population, with Hennepin and Ramsay counties among the most diverse.

Although the black population remains the largest minority group in the Twin Cities, Asians are the fastest-growing group in the area.

Minority growth in the other Twin Cities suburbs is steady, said Craig Helmstetter, senior research manager at Wilder Research, but the latest census doesn’t show the “staggering” rate reported in previous years.

Another reason for the minority growth is caused by a greater amount of whites who are dying rather than being born, which is happening across the nation, according to census analysts.

For the first time, the latest census data shows that an entire national age group consisting of preschool-aged children, from birth to age 4, consists of more minorities than whites, at just over 50 percent.

Minnesota’s overall population also is getting older, with a 19 percent increase in residents 65 and up, prompted by the hefty baby boomer generation.

In the seven-county metro area, where the population tends to be younger than the rest of the state, the number of people ages 65 to 74 increased by 28 percent, and the amount of people 85 and older rose nearly 15 percent.

“We really see huge gains in numbers in our older adult population,” Egbert said of the census figures.

The amount of Minnesota residents ages 40 to 49 has dropped 7.5 percent since 2010, but the number of people ages 30 to 34 grew by 14 percent.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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