Archived Story

Census figures show Freeborn County goes down 4 percent

Published 1:10pm Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It’s official: Freeborn County has seen a decrease in population over the past decade.

According to the 2010 census figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday, the population in Freeborn County is 31,255. The 2000 census reported Freeborn County’s population at 32,584.

That means the population has dropped by 1,329 people, which is about a 4 percent decline.

Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said he’s not aware of any county funding that would be affected by a 4 percent drop in the population.

He said the drop was likely due to the change of the family farm over the past 20 years, along with the loss of jobs.

“In a large ag community like Freeborn County, how the farming industry has changed from fewer family farms to the large farms makes a difference,” he said. “I don’t think one event in one day was the reason, but it was a slow decline with all of those factors adding to it.”

The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau released the first county reports for Minnesota at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Population counts for small areas and race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data were released to Gov. Mark Dayton and state legislators.

The Hispanic population made up about 8 percent of Freeborn County’s population at 2,750 people. This is up 1.7 percent from the 2000 census, which reported a Hispanic population of 2,049 people, or 6.3 percent of the total population. Census figures across the state show that the Hispanic population jumped 74.5 percent over the past decade.

Census data also helps shape voting districts for both county and city residents. Housing units in Freeborn County total 14,231, with about 93 percent of the housing units occupied and 7 percent vacant.

Out of the total Freeborn County population, 78 percent, or 24,383 people, are age 18 and older.

“Keeping and retaining good quality jobs and education will be key to keeping young people here after graduating and turning these numbers around so we start growing again,” said Freeborn County 5th District Commissioner-elect Mike Lee.

He said he would be interested in studying the age brackets of the working force, or mainly 18- to 62-year-olds, and then the percentage of population over the age of 65. As of press time, those figures had not been released yet.

Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer Dennis Distad said depending on where the 4 percent of population was lost will depend on how any redistricting, if any, will occur on the county level. He said because the small cities generally have just one precinct, he would have to look at each individual township and city in Freeborn County to study the shift.

Distad also said the total number of voters across the county will be divided by five to figure out about how many residents should be in each county commissioner district. By studying maps from the Census Bureau, which he will receive sometime this year, he can then study the population shifts in the townships and cities.

He said if any of those shifts occur within the city of Albert Lea where street boundaries might need to be shifted, the county and city would work together to make sure elected officials from both continue to have an equal population in their district. He also said there’s a 5 percent variance allowed in population among the districts.