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Foreign Born Trends

5/23/2018 10:09:32 AM

Tim O'Neill

This month’s Metro Area blog highlights the region’s foreign born population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the term “foreign born” refers to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes naturalized U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (immigrants), temporary migrants (such as foreign students), humanitarian migrants (such as refugees), and unauthorized migrants. Digging into the data, the Census Bureau does collect information on the characteristics of the foreign born population, including country of birth, year of entry, citizenship status, and the size of the population. More information on immigration can be obtained through the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

The seven-county Metro Area had a total population of 2,978,822 people in 2016, according to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates. Of this population, 336,686 people, or 11.3 percent, self-reported as foreign born. Where the Metro Area makes up 54.7 percent of Minnesota’s total population, it makes up 78.9 percent of the state’s foreign born population.

Over 162,500 foreign born people live in Hennepin County, accounting for nearly half (48.3 percent) of the Metro Area’s total foreign-born population. Over 80,200 foreign born people live in Ramsey County, accounting for nearly a quarter (23.8 percent) of the region’s foreign born population. Together, nearly 243,000 foreign born people live within Hennepin and Ramsey counties, accounting for 72.1 percent and 56.9 percent of the Metro Area’s and Minnesota’s total foreign born populations, respectively. Within the Metro Area, Ramsey County has the highest share of its total population being foreign born, at 15.1 percent. This is followed by Hennepin County, 13.4 percent and Dakota County, 8.9 percent. (Table 1).

Twin Cities Metro Area Foreign Born Population

As Table 1 reveals, the foreign born population in the Metro Area is growing rapidly. Between the 2007-2011 and 2012-2016 5-Year ACS Estimates, the region’s foreign born population increased by 12.3 percent (equivalent to 36,810 people). For reference, the region’s total population increased by 5.1 percent during this period of time. Most foreign born growth was witnessed in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, with rapid growth also witnessed in Dakota County and Washington County.

When analyzing the Metro Area’s foreign born population by age, interesting insights begin to emerge. Most notably, 62.8 percent of the region’s foreign born population is between the ages of 25 and 54. This is compared to 42.4 percent of the total population being between the ages of 25 and 54. It should be noted that this age cohort has the highest labor force participation rate of any age cohort. In other words, a large share of foreign born residents in the Metro Area are ready, willing, and able to work, which is excellent news for employers experiencing very tight labor market conditions.

Population by Age Group

At the older end of the age spectrum, 18.0 percent of foreign born persons in the metro are 55 years of age and older, compared to 24.8 percent for the total population. At the younger end of the age spectrum, 19.2 percent of foreign born persons in the metro are less than 25 years of age, as opposed to 32.7 percent for the total population (Figure 1).

When analyzing the Metro Area’s foreign born population by country of origin, most recent trends show large inflows from eastern Africa, south eastern Asia, and south central Asia.

For More Information

Contact Tim O'Neill at 651-259-7401.

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