In Greater Minnesota, Census Bureau finds Pine City area to be the most gay

Census:  Pokegama is the township with the highest proportion of same-sex partners in the state; also Rock Creek and Pine City are among gayest cities Statewide

In the last 10 years, Minnesota saw quite the surge in the number of same-sex households and the brunt of the growth, 80% of it, took place beyond Minneapolis and St. Paul—in the suburbs, exurbs and the least likely of small towns—places like Pine City. 

Or is Pine City the least likely of places?

According to the U.S. Census, which recently released its second-ever count of same-sex partners in Minnesota, the Greater Pine City area is home to some of the most concentrated same-sex coupled households among any of the areas of the State, outside of metropolitan areas.

There are 1,786 townships in Minnesota and the “gayest” of them all is Pokegama Township (pop. 2,743), which surrounds the city of Pine City on three sides.  White Bear Township (pop. 10,949) is the only township that has more by sheer numbers—just eight more households—but Pokegama by far has the highest percentage, 2.1% of all of the households, more than twice that of the average across the State.  In Minnesota, there were 13,718 same-sex couples in 2010, accounting for about one percent of couples statewide.

Pine City itself, within the relatively-small municipal limits, has eight such couples, a 14.3% increase from the previous Census, which even then was higher than the State average.   The city had the equivalent or more same-sex coupled households than a handful of cities over twice its size, including St. Joseph (pop. 6,534), Victoria (pop. 7,345), Big Lake (pop. 7,386), Baxter (pop. 7,610), Mahtomedi (pop. 7,676), Crookston (pop. 7,891), Cambridge (pop. 8,111) and Waconia (pop. 10,697) – even Hennepin County’s Minnetrista (6,384).

And, Rock Creek, just 1.5 miles down the road, has twice as many same-sex coupled households as Pine City.  Yet just 20 miles to the west, in Mora, a community of similar size and distance from the Twin Cities, there weren’t any same sex couples reported to be living there. 

As far as counties are concerned, only Hennepin and Ramsey have more same-sex couple households per thousand households; Pine County comes in third out of all 87 counties.

Some may ask, “Why does this rural part of the state have a higher concentration of same-sex couples?”

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City continues to grow, but is the number too low?

At last night’s Council meeting, City Planner Nathan Johnson called to question the city’s official population number that was released as a part of the Census 2010 data:  3,123. 

He didn’t see how the little change was possible given that number is just 80 more people than 10 years ago (when the population was 3,043), despite Pine City having over 100 new residential units than it had a decade ago.   Simple math, at 2.39 people per household would put roughly 250 people more in the City, not 80.  In addition, State Demographer Tom Gillespy’s office pegged Pine City’s estimated population in 2009 at 3,296 and its 2010 projection at 3,487, numbers Johnson felt were more in line with reality.

Johnson suggested the Council consider filing a “Count Question Resolution” as soon as the process allows it (June 1).  At least one other Minnesota city, Alexandria, also is preparing to file one, as was reported in MinnPost.  Following the 2000 Census, potential count problems were identified for 1,180 out of 39,000 jurisdictions — less than three percent of all governmental jurisdictions across the nation.  The final 2000 corrections resulted in a net gain in population of about 2,700 people. 

As the Star Tribune recently reported, a decade ago after Census 2000, a small town in Wyoming quadroupled in size after challenging the U.S. Census Bureau (going from one to four residents).  While Pine City will definitely not quadrouple, or even hit the next tier of Minnesota city sizes (5,000), Johnson felt that showing steady growth was key to demonstrating the vibrancy of the community to potential developers.

“We want to be on the ‘radar’ for companies looking for the right demographic mix to support their business,” he said.

As for the other, smaller Pine County communities, they seem to be doing just fine, population-wise.  Hinckley grew by 39.4 percent, from 1,291 in 2000 to 1,800 in 2010.  Rock Creek experienced a similar spurt; it’s population increased 31.3 percent, from 1,119 in 2000 to 1,628 in 2010.  Sandstone also grew by leaps and bounds; it’s 2010 population was 2,849 — 83.9 percent more than the 1,548 count in 2000.  Minnesota’s overall population increased 7.8 percent to just over 5.3 million.

Pine County was again among the fastest-growing counties in the state, (rank: 18 out of 87), whereas the population dropped in 37 counties across the state.  As for Pine City, the county seat, staff will continue to research the issue and see if there is a case to make to the Census Bureau for challenging the count this summer.

American Community Survey results for Pine County released

The 2009 results have been released by the US Census Bureau of the American Community Survey (ACS). This report shows the results of the lengthy survey sent to some residents one year ago which surveyed a wide range of topic areas including households, families, school enrollment, educational attainment, housing, economic, citizenship, ancestory and more.

The following are some highlight results from this report. A link to the full report can be found at the end of this story.

NOTE. Although the American Community Survey (ACS) produces population, demographic and housing unit estimates, it is the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program that produces and disseminates the official estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, cities and towns and estimates of housing units for states and counties.

For more information on confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error, and definitions, see Survey Methodology.

HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES: In 2005-2009 there were 11,000 households in Pine County. The average household size was 2.5 people.
Families made up 67 percent of the households in Pine County. This figure includes both married-couple families (52 percent) and other families (15 percent). Nonfamily households made up 33 percent of all households in Pine County. Most of the nonfamily households were people living alone, but some were composed of people living in households in which no one was related to the householder.

The Types of Households in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Married-couple families 52%
Other families 15%
People living alone 26%
Other nonfamily households 7%

NATIVITY AND LANGUAGE: One percent of the people living in Pine County in 2005-2009 were foreign born. Ninety-nine percent was native, including 78 percent who were born in Minnesota.

Among people at least five years old living in Pine County in 2005-2009, 4 percent spoke a language other than English at home. Of those speaking a language other than English at home, 34 percent spoke Spanish and 66 percent spoke some other language; 27 percent reported that they did not speak English “very well.”

GEOGRAPHIC MOBILITY: In 2005-2009, 87 percent of the people at least one year old living in Pine County were living in the same residence one year earlier; 7 percent had moved during the past year from another residence in the same county, 4 percent from another county in the same state, 2 percent from another state, and less than 0.5 percent from abroad.

Geographic Mobility of Residents of Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Same residence 87%
Different residence, same county 7%
Different county, same state 4%
Different state 2%
Abroad 0%

EDUCATION: In 2005-2009, 85 percent of people 25 years and over had at least graduated from high school and 13 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Fifteen percent were dropouts; they were not enrolled in school and had not graduated from high school.

The total school enrollment in Pine County was 6,100 in 2005-2009. Nursery school and kindergarten enrollment was 610 and elementary or high school enrollment was 4,600 children. College or graduate school enrollment was 820.

The Educational Attainment of People in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Graduate or professional degree 4%
Bachelor’s degree 9%
Associate’s degree 8%
Some college, no degree 24%
High school diploma or equivalency 41%
Less than high school diploma 15%

DISABILITY: In Pine County, among people at least five years old in 2005-2009, percent reported a disability. The likelihood of having a disability varied by age – from percent of people 5 to 15 years old, to percent of people 16 to 64 years old, and to percent of those 65 and older.

INDUSTRIES: In 2005-2009, for the employed population 16 years and older, the leading industries in Pine County were Educational services, and health care, and social assistance, 19 percent, and Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services, 17 percent.

Employment by Industry in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining 4%
Construction 10%
Manufacturing 10%
Wholesale trade 3%
Retail trade 11%
Transportation and warehousing, and utilities 4%
Information 1%
Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing 5%
Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services 5%
Educational services, and health care and social assistance 19%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services 17%
Other Services, except public administration 4%
Public administration 6%

OCCUPATIONS AND TYPE OF EMPLOYER: Among the most common occupations were: Management, professional, and related occupations, 25 percent; Service occupations, 23 percent; Sales and office occupations, 22 percent; Production, transportation, and material moving occupations, 16 percent; and Construction, extraction, maintenance, and repair occupations, 12 percent. Seventy-five percent of the people employed were Private wage and salary workers; 16 percent was Federal, state, or local government workers; and 9 percent was Self-employed in own not incorporated business workers.

TRAVEL TO WORK: Seventy-seven percent of Pine County workers drove to work alone in 2005-2009, 12 percent carpooled, less than 0.5 percent took public transportation, and 5 percent used other means. The remaining 6 percent worked at home. Among those who commuted to work, it took them on average 27.1 minutes to get to work.

INCOME: The median income of households in Pine County was $43,618. Seventy-five percent of the households received earnings and 22 percent received retirement income other than Social Security. Thirty-four percent of the households received Social Security. The average income from Social Security was $14,407. These income sources are not mutually exclusive; that is, some households received income from more than one source.

POVERTY AND PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS: In 2005-2009, 14 percent of people were in poverty. Eighteen percent of related children under 18 were below the poverty level, compared with 10 percent of people 65 years old and over. Ten percent of all families and 31 percent of families with a female householder and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level.

Poverty Rates in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
People age 65 and over 10%
Related children under 18 years 18%
All families 10%
Female householder families 31%

POPULATION OF Pine County: In 2005-2009, Pine County had a total population of 28,000 – 13,000 (48 percent) females and 15,000 (52 percent) males. The median age was 41.4 years. Twenty-three percent of the population was under 18 years and 16 percent was 65 years and older.

The Age Distribution of People in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
65 and over 16%
45 to 64 28%
25 to 44 25%
18 to 24 8%
Under 18 23%

RACIAL MAKEUP: For people reporting one race alone, 93 percent was White; 1 percent was Black or African American; 3 percent was American Indian and Alaska Native; less than 0.5 percent was Asian; less than 0.5 percent was Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 1 percent was Some other race. Two percent reported Two or more races. Two percent of the people in Pine County was Hispanic. Ninety-two percent of the people in Pine County was White non-Hispanic. People of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

HOUSING CHARACTERISTICS: In 2005-2009, Pine County had a total of 17,000 housing units, 34 percent of which were vacant. Of the total housing units, 77 percent was in single-unit structures, 7 percent was in multi-unit structures, and 16 percent was mobile homes. Twenty-seven percent of the housing units were built since 1990.

The Types of Housing Units in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Single-unit structures 77%
In multi-unit structures 7%
Mobile homes 16%

OCCUPIED HOUSING UNIT CHARACTERISTICS: In 2005-2009, Pine County had 11,000 occupied housing units – 9,000 (82 percent) owner occupied and 1,900 (18 percent) renter occupied. Three percent of the households did not have telephone service and 4 percent of the households did not have access to a car, truck, or van for private use. Multi Vehicle households were not rare. Forty-one percent had two vehicles and another 28 percent had three or more.

HOUSING COSTS: The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners was $1,266, nonmortgaged owners $381, and renters $573. Thirty-nine percent of owners with mortgages, 18 percent of owners without mortgages, and 41 percent of renters in Pine County spent 30 percent or more of household income on housing.

Occupants with a Housing Cost Burden in Pine County, Minnesota in 2005-2009
Owners with mortgage 39%
Owners without mortgage 18%
Renters 41%

Source: American Community Survey, 2005-2009

Census-taking wraps up, now what?


February–March 2010
Census questionnaires are mailed or delivered to households.

April 1, 2010
Census Day

May–July 2010
Census takers visit households that did not return a questionnaire by mail.

December 2010
By law, Census Bureau delivers population counts to the President for apportionment.

March 2011
By law, Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting data to states.


“Pine City: Pop. 3,043.”

The signs travelers see on their way into Pine City on Main Street and Hillside Avenue will eventually reflect the city’s population increase but it is not likely that new signs will be erected until some time after the busy part of the road construction season in 2011.

Signs get ordered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and, before ordered, the agency has to receive “real” population figures.  This accounts for the prolonged time period between census figures being announced and the receipt of new signs.  In the metro area, $200,000 is budgeted for FY 2011 for the replacement of these signs, according to Mn/DOT planning figures.

Signage for the whole state is manufactured at the Office of Maintenance State Sign Shop in Oakdale.

Get a 2010 Census Job


  • Get Paid Weekly ($11 to $14/hour)
  • Close to Home
  • Five-to-10 weeks of Work
  • 20-40 Flexible Hours per Week
  • Receive Paid Training
  • Receive Reimbursement for Authorized Mileage and other Work-Related Expenses
  • Help YOUR Community have a Successful 2010 Census


More information is available by clicking here or call the toll-free jobs line:


FedRelay:  1-800-877-8339 TTY

Job Opportunities with 2010 Census


There are several positions open to work for the upcoming Census:

– Census Takers

– Crew Leaders & Crew Leader Assistants

– Recruiting Assistants

– Census Clerks

Earn good pay, be paid weekly, work flexible hours, receive paid training, receive reimbursement for authorized mileage, and help your community have a successful 2010 Census.

To apply, call to schedule an appointment to take a test right away, 1-866-861-2010.

Or visit the Website for more info:

Pine City: On the decline or growing?

When the last official census was taken in the year 2000, Pine City’s population was 3,043. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population to have been 3,311 last year, in 2007.

Some say there’s less to do in Pine City now than in years past. Others say we’re an up-and-coming community. While some point to signs of decay (such as vacant storefronts or foreclosed homes), others point to signs of growth. Since the last Census, we have added another stop light, water tower, courthouse, one-way, Subway™ and grocer. What are your thoughts? Are we a “has been” city or a “rising star”?

Subway (2007)Subway (2000)One Way (2007)One Way (2000)Courthouse (2007)Courthouse (2000)Water Tower (2007)Water Tower (2000)Stoplight (2007)Stoplight (2000)Grocer (2007)Grocer (2000)