12/12/2017 10:09:32 AM
Luke Greiner, Mark Schultz
The U.S. Census Bureau released the most recent 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates on December 7, 2017, providing updates to many detailed tables for every county and place in the state and the region. This included new estimates on population trends, demographic shifts, and social and economic characteristics.
The 23-county Southwest Minnesota planning region was home to just over 390,000 residents in 2016, with most counties seeing an aging and declining population, though there were notable exceptions in the region. Blue Earth County, where Mankato is located, was the 10th fastest growing county in the state from 2000-2016, and Nicollet County, the other portion of the Mankato-North Mankato metropolitan statistical area, ranked 23rd.
Likewise, Le Sueur, Nobles, and Lyon counties also saw population growth this century, while the remaining 18 counties in the region saw various amounts of population loss. In fact, 15 of the 26 fastest-declining counties in the state were found in Southwest Minnesota (Map 1).
Despite the population declines overall, the new data show that Southwest Minnesota's population was growing more diverse, with the number of residents from different race groups and ethnicities increasing rapidly since the turn of the century. While the number of white residents dropped by 2.8 percent, representing a loss of 10,671 people; the number of people of other races rose significantly.
The number of Black or African American residents more than doubled in Southwest Minnesota from 2000-2016, a gain of 3,870 people. The region also added 2,260 Asian residents, almost 2,000 more people of two or more races, and over 600 additional American Indians. The region saw a small decline in the number of people of some other race, though there were still about 6,325 people in that race category, making it about the same size as the region's Black and Asian populations.
The region's Hispanic or Latino population nearly doubled to more than 24,000 people through 2016, accounting for about 6.1 percent of the region's total population. Southwest Minnesota has a higher share of Hispanic or Latino residents than the state, and the highest share of any of the six planning regions. (Table 1).
Southwest Minnesota is home to the two counties with the highest percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents in the state: Nobles (26.1%) and Watonwan (22.6%). In addition, the region has 10 of the 22 counties with the highest share of Hispanic or Latino residents (see Map 2).