Austin has big ties to Mexico

Austin residents have plenty of ties south of the border, according to U.S. Census data.

An overwhelming majority of Hispanic residents in Mower County identify themselves as Mexican-Americans, according to the latest release of 2010 U.S. Census numbers.

Of the 4,138 Hispanic residents living in Mower County in 2010, 3,545 were of Mexican descent. There were 66 Cuban-American residents, 33 Puerto Rican residents and 494 residents whose ancestors came from other countries.

“We do see a majority from Mexico,” said Jake Vela, executive director of the Welcome Center in Austin. Vela said he has spoken with several residents who came from Mexico who wanted to live in America for the opportunities.

Austin’s Hispanic population has more than doubled over the past 10 years, growing from about 1,400 to almost 3,800 people, a 166 percent increase. This mirrors a statewide trend, as Minnesota’s Hispanic population has risen more than 74 percent over the past 10 years.

Overall growth in Austin and Mower County is a bright spot among a general population decline in outstate communities. The largest reason for that, according to State Demographer Tom Gillaspy, is Austin’s food packaging and processing jobs.

More young families are moving here, too. Vela said he sees many young families move into the area who want to settle in Austin.

Mower County’s total population rose to 39,163 residents from 38,603 in 2000. Of the total population, there were 10,860 residents 19 or younger, compared to 10,814 in 2000.

“That’s always a great thing, when you have that youth in town,” Vela said. “It means there’s something going on in Austin. To have the younger families here pick up that slack a little bit, I think is good for any community.”

There was a slight increase in 20-24 year olds, with 2,184 residents compared to 2,041. There also were more 25-34 year olds last year than in 2000, as 4,650 residents of that age called Mower County home, compared to 4,264.

The increase in population means an increase in some older demographics, too. There were 1,422 residents 85 or older in 2010 compared to 1,151 10 years ago.

The 2000 census showed there were 2,927 residents between 75 and 84. In 2010, there were 2,522 residents in that range.

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