Census surveys aren't exactly needed to prove that Minnesota is getting older; the aging of the baby boomer generation has assured that this trend will happen. But the latest figures from the 2011 American Community Survey nonetheless provide an interesting look at the speed with which the state is aging -- and how our state's seniors live and work.
First, the basic figures: An estimated 701,083 Minnesotans are 65 or older. That is 10.3 percent more than the 2007 estimate. (By comparison, the state's overall population grew only 2.8 percent.)
Demographers have predicted, among other things, that seniors in the coming decades will need to stay in the labor force longer for Minnesota to avoid a worker shortage. The American Community Survey data for the past five years doesn't really reveal this trend yet, though there has been an estimated 20 percent increase in Minnesotans ages 65 to 69 in the workforce.
But the figures do suggest that elderly Minnesotans are having a harder time finding work. The rate of Minnesotans ages 65 to 69 in the workforce, but unemployed, increased 75 percent from 2007 to 2011 while the comparable rate for Minnesotans ages 70 to 74 increased 242 percent. These numbers are based on small sample sizes -- the estimated number of unemployed 65- to 69-year-olds was only 2,153 in 2007 and 3,783 in 2011 -- so they need to be viewed with a grain of salt. But they make sense in the context of the state's aging trend and economy.
Lastly, the census data showed a continued trend toward grandparents living with their adult children -- either because of their own care needs or in order to help raise their grandchildren. There are 18,418 grandparents 60 and older in Minnesota who are living with their children and grandchildren (younger than 18) and are considered responsible for raising those grandchildren. That is a 41 percent increase from the prior five years.
There are 19,287 grandparents 60 and older in similar housing situations but who aren't considered responsible for the grandchildren. That is a 33 percent increase from the previous five years.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744