Census data shows local housing costs rising, diversity increasing

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 14, 2002

A typical Albert Lea household has 2.41 occupants, earns $32,841 annually, owns a $69,700 house with 5.3 rooms, and travels 15.4 minutes to work, according to detailed census 2000 data released this month.

The figures are estimates based on the responses to the long-form census survey that was sent to about every six households.

The median age of Albert Lea’s 18,356 population is 41. There are 7,785 households, among which 4,828 are families. 72.9 percent of households owns a house. Among 2,957 non-family households, 2,571 are householders living alone.

Email newsletter signup

The median housing value soared to $43,800, a 59 percent increase over the 1990 survey, while the increase in household median income was 8.2 percent.

In Albert Lea, 8,237 are married, while 1,538 are divorced, 1,482 are widowed and 229 were separated, as of April 2000, when the census was taken. The divorce rate among people 15 years and older is 10.2 percent.

While a vast majority declares European origin &045; 6,369 Norwegians and 5,611 Germans &045; the diversifying demography is apparent when the data is compared with the 1990 census.

Racially, the percentage of white population decreased from 96.4 percent to 92.8 percent. And ethnically, Hispanics increased from 897 to 1,740, accounting for 9.5 percent of the population now. In 2000, 847, or 4.6 percent, of the city’s residents were born abroad. Four-hundred twenty-two of them came to the U.S. after 1990 and 636 of them have non-citizen status.

1,636 people over five-years-old speak a language other than English, and 904 of them can handle English less than very well.

A comparison with neighboring cities depicts a stagnation of Albert Lea in the past decade.

Austin has outstripped Albert Lea in the household median income. It increased from $28,886 in 1989 to $33,750 in 1999, showing 16.6 percent growth. The growth in Rochester is close to the one in Albert Lea, but the income level is much higher at $49,090 in ’99.

The percentage of new housing units built since 1990 is 7.6 in Austin and 20.7 in Rochester, which reflects a vigorous economic development. Albert Lea has only 5.2 percent new housing.

Rochester has an outstanding 38.1 percent population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, while the figure in Austin is 16.9 and in Albert Lea 13.8. Of cities with 10,000 people or more in rural Minnesota, Albert Lea had the lowest percentage with a bachelor’s degree.