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Growing a lot older

By Staff | May 4, 2014

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to predict the future of our population??

Susan Brower, state demographer, has done just that and was able to share her findings with Faribault County officials.

Brower presented the information in Blue Earth on Thursday, April 24, at the annual elected officials meeting.

According to Brower’s findings, there are three major trends affecting the State of Minnesota, and, more importantly, Faribault County.

Those three trends include; aging, regional growth and an increase of minorities.

The trend which seems to most affect Faribault County is the aging population.

“This will be the first time in history when we will have more older adults than school age children,”?Brower says.

According to Brower, this means the number of people retiring will also be greater than the number of working age adults.

“This will create budget issues moving forward,”?she explains. “It will also slow the economy.”

The current funding will soon have to shift toward health and long-term care due to this trend.

Data specific to Faribault County shows that a very large portion of the population here is 75 years old or older and 33.6 percent of households have older adults residing there.

However, using population calculations, Brower adds Faribault County will also continue to have a pretty stable number of residents.

The second trend, regional growth, affects Faribault County as well. In fact, between the years of 2000 and 2010, Faribault County saw a population decrease of about 10 percent.

“This means there was a one percent decrease each year,”?Brower explains.

This trend is fairly common and population in prairie land areas have been seeing a slight decline since the 1960s.

Regional growth has an opposite affect in other areas in the state because suburbs and bigger cities are seeing growth due to job locations.

“Since 2010, the decrease of population in Faribault County has slowed,”?Brower says.

Rather than the one percent decline they had seen for the first 10 years of the 2000s, Faribault County has only had a .5 percent decrease in population since 2010.

The third trend is the growth of minorities in the State.

“Minnesota’s population contains 17 percent of people who are of color,”?Brower says. “And, 24 percent of the population in the Twin Cities are of color.”

Given those statistics about migration of different races and ethnicities, many areas in the state will rely on the migration of people to maintain a steady population.

However, this is not the case in Faribault County where the percentage of people of color remains low.

“You will rely more on births in this area,”?Brower explains.

Michele Stindtman of the Soil and Water Conservation District was present and mentioned the difficulty of encouraging young adults to return to the area after furthering their education.

“There is a reverse migration that often happens in areas like Faribault County,” Brower says. “Around the age of 30, people will return to the community they know to raise their families.”

And, with the continued aging of Faribault County’s population, the future will likely see a greater need to fill jobs in the area rather than having a scarcity of work for residents.

“This will also encourage some migration to the area,”?Brower adds.

Brower has been the State Demographer since February of 2012. She travels the state and gives presentations regarding population and social trends.

Brower has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan with a specialization in demography and family sociology. She also has a master’s degree in public policy from Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Any questions can be directed to the state help line or by emailing Brower at susan.brower@state.mn.us.