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News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

08-21-08

Liesl_Recap

ReCAP Director Liesl Eathington prepared the new report "A Profile of Iowa's Population by Age, Race, and Ethnicity in 2007."

Contacts:

Contact: Liesl Eathington, Regional Capacity Analysis Program, (515) 294-2954, leathing@iastate.edu

Mike Ferlazzo, News Service, (515) 294-8986, ferlazzo@iastate.edu

Breaking down the census: Iowa's becoming more diverse, Iowa State experts say

AMES, Iowa -- The 2007 population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau might suggest that it's the same old Iowa -- with the state's overall level of racial and ethnic diversity being relatively low when compared to the United States average. In fact, white, non-Hispanic persons represented more than 90 percent of Iowa's total population in 2007, but accounted for just 66 percent of the total population in the United States.

Yet an analysis of census data by Iowa State University's Regional Capacity Analysis Program (ReCAP) found that Iowa is actually becoming more diverse -- particularly among young people.

Iowa's total minority population grew by more than 32 percent between April 1, 2000 and July 1, 2007 -- increasing by 68,000 to reach nearly 280,000. Persons of Hispanic origin now represent four percent of the state's total population -- up from 2.8 percent in 2000.

"In recent years, the pace of change across the state seems to be accelerating. We're looking more diverse and changing more rapidly, particularly in certain parts of the state," said Liesl Eathington, an ISU economist who is author of the report and director of ReCAP. "There are big parts of Iowa that are not as homogenous as the rest of the country perceives. So there are really some pockets of relatively high diversity within Iowa."

State's minority population swells among young people

Iowa's minority population also appears to skew young. More than 41 percent of minority residents were under the age of 20 in 2007, compared to about 27 percent for Iowa's total population. An additional 40 percent of minority residents were between the ages of 20 and 44, compared to just 33 percent of the state's total population.

"We're seeing in-migration of young minority families and their children," Eathington said. "Meanwhile, we've seen continued out-migration of young, non-Hispanic white families from many parts of the state, so minority residents represent a growing fraction of the population in our state's younger generations."

Eathington's paper reports that from 2000 to 2007, 76 of Iowa's 99 counties experienced net population declines, yet all of them experienced growth among minority population groups.

"The fact that counties are seeing gains from these diverse groups, especially in the number of children, is a positive thing," Eathington said. "For many counties, this is good news."

In Wapello County, Humboldt County and Allamakee County, the minority population more than doubled. Buena Vista's 26 percent minority population ranked highest among all counties.

Eathington says only the state's larger metro and suburban counties -- including those around Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City -- are seeing increases in younger populations among the non-minority groups.

'Baby bust' generation shrinks by 40,000

There were 972,153 Iowans between the ages of 20 and 44, or 32.5 percent of the state's population, according to the new census data -- an age group that shrank by nearly 40,000 over the past seven years. The ReCAP report attributes part of the loss due to net out-migration of young adults, but it was also because the number of young persons who "aged in" to the young adult group was smaller than the number who "aged out" to an older cohort group. But Eathington says this isn't just an Iowa phenomenon, with young adults slipping from a 37 percent share of the U.S. population in 2000 to a 34.7 percent in 2007.

"A lot of times, people look at the size of an age group over time and assume if it's smaller, it's because everyone left," she said. "But it could be smaller because of the original number of people born during that generation. For example, the 20-44 age group is also smaller nationally than it was a few years ago. We see something similar with the so-called 'Silent Generation,' the ones that preceded the 'Baby Boom.' So we're also seeing drops in the number of elderly, and it's not because they're all moving to Texas. There were just fewer of them to begin with."

Among the Baby Boomers, Iowa had 776,627 residents between the ages of 45 and 64 in 2007 -- 126,000 more than 2000, or an increase of 26 percent. Nationally, the age group grew by 24 percent during the seven-year period.

The complete ReCAP report, titled "A Profile of Iowa's Population by Age, Race, and Ethnicity in 2007," is available online at http://www.econ.iastate.edu/research/webpapers/paper_12980.pdf.

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Quick look

Analysis of census data by ISU's Regional Capacity Analysis Program (ReCAP) found that Iowa is actually becoming more diverse -- particularly among young people. Total minority population grew by more than 32 percent between April 1, 2000 and July 1, 2007 -- increasing by 68,000 to reach nearly 280,000.

Quote

"In recent years, the pace of change across the state seems to be accelerating. We're looking more diverse and changing more rapidly, particularly in certain parts of the state. There are big parts of Iowa that are not as homogenous as the rest of the country perceives. So there are really some pockets of relatively high diversity within Iowa."

Liesl Eathington