January 28, 2009

Hispanics Expected to Become Minnesota's Largest Minority Group in 10 Years

The big surprise is that Hispanics are projected to become the largest minority group in the state within the next 10 years. Minnesota, however, will remain overwhelmingly white.

Last update: January 26, 2009 - 10:44 PM

Hispanics, once among the smallest of Minnesota's minority groups and predicted to remain so for decades, are now expected to become the state's largest minority group within the next 10 years, the state demographer's office said Monday.

But with a lot more white folks than what experts were predicting as recently as the mid-1990s, Minnesota will also remain overwhelmingly white through the early part of this century.

As recently as 1990, there were almost twice as many blacks (95,000) as Hispanics (54,000) in Minnesota. But a '90s surge in Hispanic immigration, fueled by a white-hot economy, helped change that.

Demographer Martha McMurry now projects that by 2015, Hispanics (324,000) will have charged past blacks (314,000), despite the effects of African immigration. As of the most recent set of projections, just a few years ago, that wasn't going to happen until 2025.

McMurry cautioned, however, that the shift in expectations is more because of changes in how the forecasts are being done than to any observed change in minority arrivals or birthrates.

"I don't think there's any huge underlying shift going on," she said. "One change we made in how we do these projections is that we looked at national forecasts this time, which we haven't done before."

The notion of a general increase in diversity is a lot more reliable than any specific numbers, she said.

"A lot of the growth in the black population has been immigrants," she said. "Will that continue? Good luck trying to figure that one out. And the same is true of Latinos: We don't know what immigration policies or enforcement will be."

DAVID PETERSON

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