Look who’s coming to dinner — and staying for good

Minneapolis is celebrating passing the 400,000 resident mark — 400,938 according to this week’s reports. St. Paul is pushing on toward 300,000 — at 296,542, we have just a few thousand to go! That’s big growth for both cities from their 1980-90 low points, though both have a way to go to get back to the numbers of their 1970 glory days.  

Who are the new people? And who’s coming in the next few years, as both cities look toward continuing growth?

Marlys Harris in MinnPost points to immigrants from other countries and from other U.S. cities. She reports 10-20,000 international immigrants to Minnesota last year and about 10,000 from other parts of the United States. Both young adults and seniors are well-represented.

That pretty much tracks with the national trends — more young people, with population growth driven by immigration, and more old people, as the baby boomers age. The New York Times reports that the biggest age group right now is 22-year-olds:

“But the Census Bureau now estimates that the biggest such group last year was 22-year-olds. The largest of the baby boom contingents, people who were 53 last year, had fallen to fourth place. The second- and third-ranked age levels were 23- and 21-year-olds.”

Both new immigrants to the Twin Cities (from inside or outside the country) and young people could offer new energy and ideas. My former colleague Jay Gabler blogged about barriers and accessibility last summer:

“There are barriers to participation in local politics that probably don’t need to be there. Much of local politics revolves around meetings—what if we found the resources to put those meetings online, to post transcripts and live-tweets? What if there was opportunity for real-time online comment? That wouldn’t be free, but think about the rewards that investment might reap in terms of increased participation.

Young people and newcomers know they can participate in local politics, but they sometimes get mixed messages about that. … Accessibility should be a base-level priority for our political system.

Immigrants, foreign and domestic, have many reasons to keep on coming to the Twin Cities:

  • Jobs — our unemployment rate is way below the national average.
  • Our great craft breweries.
  • Music, theater, culture, neighborhoods, biking, or community gardening.
  • Ethnic restaurants: Burrito Mercado, Cheng Heng, On’s Thai Kitchen … and on and on.
  • The weather! Well — at least this weekend!

So, on Memorial Day weekend, as we look back to the past, we can also look forward to the future and celebrate the coming of summer, the growth of the Twin Cities, and the new folks coming to the table.

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