Freeborn County housing units: 14,182

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, September 16, 2008

OK, like I said last week, let’s look at more interesting statistics on counties in Minnesota.

Last week, I mentioned that residents of Isanti County had the longest travel time to work in the state. People there travel an average of 33 minutes to get to work. I also said Freeborn County ranks 50th out of the state’s 87 counties. What I didn’t tell you was the average travel time for Freeborn County residents going to work. The answer is 18 minutes.

Freeborn County ranks 2,611th out of the 3,141 counties, parishes and county equivalents in the United States.

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Now, I’ve got you curious on what is a county equivalent. For example, some city governments in Virginia have merged with the county governments. That makes, say, Bristol, Va., equal to a county.

With an estimated 492,083, Hennepin County has the most housing units in Minnesota.

What is a housing unit? Here is the Census Bureau’s definition:

“A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall.”

Ramsey County is second, with 213,126. The difficult guess is third place. Ask that person across the room. The answer is Dakota County. It has an estimated 151,318 housing units.

The next few counties are Anoka, St. Louis, Washington, Stearns, Olmsted, Wright, Scott, Crow Wing and Otter Tail. Crow Wing? Otter Tail? Well, as I scroll down the ranking, I see that many northern Minnesota counties rank higher for housing units than they do for population — which I get into below — probably because of a large number of summer cabins and second homes. Otter Tail has an estimated 35,357 housing units. It is followed by Carver, Sherburne, Itasca, Blue Earth, Cass, Rice, Clay and Winona.

Freeborn County ranks 37th. It has 14,182. Nationwide, it ranks 1,388th out of the 3,141.

Mower County, which we always seem to compare ourselves to, is 27th statewide, with 16,894. Interestingly, Steele County is 36th, with 14,512.

Red Lake County ranks last in the state, with 1,942 housing units. Sheesh. Why doesn’t that county simply merge with Pennington or Polk counties?

By the way, there are 2,252,022 housing units in Minnesota, 21st among states. Iowa is 30th, with 1,306,943. California has the most. Wyoming has the least.

Of course, who doesn’t want to look at population estimates? I’m going to use 2005 because conveniently ranks these figures for me so I don’t have to, but the most recent estimates the site offers is 2005. I used 2005 for estimations of housing units, too.

Freeborn County was estimated to have 31,946 people in 2005, which makes it the 1,368th most populous county in the United States out of the 3,141 counties, parishes or county equivalents. That puts us in the top half but not in the top third. It ranks 32nd in Minnesota.

Hennepin County, of course, has the highest population in the state, estimated at 1,119,364. It is the 33rd largest county in the country. Ramsey is second in Minnesota, estimated at 494,920, and it is 123rd in the United States.

From there, in the state anyway, the list goes Dakota, Anoka, Washington, St. Louis, Stearns, Olmsted, Scott, Wright and Carver. Otter Tail — to compare to the housing units I mentioned above — is 16th, at 57,658. Mower County is 24, with an estimation of 38,799. Steele is 28th, with 35,755.

Traverse County is last, with 3,810 people. Sheesh. Give up the ship, people. Merge with Big Stone County.

Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.