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BRAINERD CITY COUNCIL: 2010 Census data reveals Brainerd making some growth, still improving in other areas

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Postponed from the last Brainerd City Council meeting March 5, Brainerd City Planner Mark Ostgarden presented the results from the latest American Community Survey (ACS), assessed in 2010.

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Information produced every year since 2010, Ostgarden said the ACS will be able to help see how Brainerd compares to not only surrounding cities, but the state of Minnesota and the United States as a whole.

"The ACS is able to show us the trends occurring in the United States as it pertains to household income, population and housing," said Ostgarden. "As we take a closer look at this we can see that Brainerd is making some advancements in some areas, but declining in others, too."

Ostgarden went on to display stats from the 2010 ACS which showed a 10 percent population increase since 1990, with a decrease in the median age from 33.1 years in 1990, to 32.2 years in 2010. Information also showed that the biggest increase in population was in the 50-64 year category, with a 50 percent increase.

But while population growth seemed to be moving in the right direction, Brainerd's average household income remained low on many platforms.

"Brainerd's average income is at $41,500," said Ostgarden, "compared to Baxter who is at almost $70,000, Crow Wing County around $55,000 and Minnesota at $54,000.

"The interesting thing here is when you go through the (ACS) and compare Brainerd to its sister city and the state of Minnesota, you see Brainerd is significantly lower. ...And when you add up household income percentages of all ages, we're looking at 40 percent of household income in Brainerd make $25,000 or less."

Brainerd City Council president Mary Koep offered up the reason behind such a low household income, especially in comparison to surrounding Baxter could be due to the amount of low income housing in Brainerd, to which Ostgarden agreed.

"We have to remember that this data is taken on a rolling average from 2006 to 2010," Ostgarden said. "And certainly things may appear a bit different now two years later but for the most part it is seen to be accurate as it pertains to Brainerd.

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