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One in 10: Data center releases Latino population data

One in 10

September 28, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Census projections say Emmet County's Latino population will reach one in four by 2050

By Amy H. Peterson

Staff Writer

Article Photos

It's not news that the 1990s and recent years have brought an increase in people of Latino ethnicity migrating to Iowa. They arrive from Latin American countries and more commonly from California, Texas, and other areas with a longer history of Mexican-American and Central American-heritage populations.

The chief breaking news to emerge from new data released from the Iowa State Data Center this month is that Emmet County is one area that will become more diverse. The current proportion of local residents with Latino heritage stands at one in 10 to one in eight, depending upon the source. By 2050, it will reach one in four, or 24.3 percent of the county population.

The statewide projected Latino population will double, moving from 5.7 percent in 2016 to 13 percent in 2050. A statewide project called Changing Iowa is examining the sweeping demographic and workplace changes confronting Iowans, their communities and the state's economy with a goal of encouraging conversation and offering ideas to help Iowa thrive.

While Estherville has joined other small, rural Iowa towns that have seen their population age and shrink over the last several decades, its Latino population brings both numbers and youth. The median age of Iowa residents is 38; the median age of Iowa's Latino residents is 22.

According to Jeff Schott, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa, "[The growing Latino population] has revived a lot of communities."

Tensions arise with a diverse population, Schott said, and communities need a strategy that's well-defined, in order to ease those tensions.

The data also indicated a value of family loyalty among Iowa's Latino population. Extended families work to stay together, and after young adults go off to college, they often return to their hometowns to work and raise their families.

The current rhetoric surrounding immigration has affected Latinos across the state. The Office for Latino Affairs in Des Moines reported up to a five-fold increase in complaints. However, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission reported fewer complaints by those identifying as Hispanic or Mexican in fiscal year 2017 than any of five prior years, and less than half the number of complaints received in 2013.

According to researchers from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Anglo population of Iowa may not realize how invested the Latino population is in their hometowns.

In Denison, when the Tyson plant closed in 2015 leaving 400 people unemployed, an estimated 90 percent of the Latino population stayed in Denison to train for a new line of work or applying for existing openings in the area. With that level of staying power, researchers say, a town could be insulated against the devastation of a large employer leaving town.

With 76 percent of Latino families including related children under 18, according to State Data Center numbers, and 11.3 percent of Iowa Latinos under age 5, a similar level of staying power in Emmet County could contribute to steady population and workforce growth.



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