Two new estimates place the number of immigrants living illegally in Minnesota at more than 90,000.
One analysis, by the Pew Research Center, counted 95,000 in Minnesota and suggested that the number might have edged up since 2009 even as it dipped nationally in the aftermath of the recession. The other, by the Migration Policy Institute, put the number at 91,000.
The two counts diverged most markedly in the number of undocumented immigrants in the state's workforce: 75,000 vs. 53,000, respectively.
The Washington, D.C., nonprofits released the dueling estimates Tuesday as President Obama is gearing up to announce an executive order that could shield some 5 million immigrants from deportation, possibly later this week. The numbers will likely draw close scrutiny as supporters and opponents of the order debate its effect.
Susan Brower, the Minnesota state demographer, said the reports reflect a leveling off of new undocumented arrivals in the state after rapid increases in the 1990s and early 2000s. She stressed that the numbers are estimates; hence, some of the discrepancies between the two analyses.
"This population is very, very difficult to count," Brower said.
"The more you drill down into specific categories, the higher the likelihood of error."
The Pew estimate of 95,000 immigrants living illegally in Minnesota is up from 90,000 since 2009. However, that increase is within the study's margin of error of plus or minus 10,000 people.
According to Pew, these residents make up 1.8 percent of Minnesota's population and 2.5 percent of its workforce. Nationally, an estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants account for 3.5 percent of the population and 5.1 percent of the workforce, the study says. That's a national decrease of 100,000 people between 2009 and 2012, the year of the latest estimates. Seven states saw significant increases while 14 had marked decreases.
D'Vera Cohn, an author of the Pew study, said the center essentially subtracted data on legal immigrants from the Department of Homeland Security from U.S. Census data on the foreign-born population of the country.
"The trend has been one of rapid growth followed by a leveling off in recent years," she said.
The most recent overall numbers from both organizations are roughly in line with a recent study out of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, which placed the state's undocumented population about 98,000 in 2010. According to that report, the numbers rose steadily from 13,000 in 1990 to a high of more than 105,000 in 2006 before dipping in the late 2000s.
The Migration Policy Institute offered the more detailed estimates of state residents without legal status. According to that study, more than 70 percent of Minnesota's undocumented residents have lived in the United States longer than five years; 38 percent have been in the country for more than a decade. Just more than a third have at least one child who is a U.S. citizen.
The White House has suggested that under Obama's executive order, immigrants with children who are U.S. citizens and who have lived in the country at least five years will be allowed to stay and work on a temporary basis. But those details are still a work in progress and might change before the announcement, which the president has vowed will come before the end of 2014.
The institute also found that 23 percent of Minnesota's undocumented immigrants have a high school diploma or GED, and another 31 percent have attended or graduated from college. About a third live below the poverty level. About half are uninsured. A third own a home.
Brower said a trend that might shape both immigration numbers and attitudes in coming years is the rapid aging of the state's population and the exit of baby boomers from the workforce: "That points us to immigration as a likely source of growth going forward."