Census: Rochester leads large Minn. cities with 24 pct. growthby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Newly released U.S. Census data shows Minnesota's population grew by about 8 percent over the last decade and now stands at about 5.3 million people.
Although the state's population didn't grow as fast as it did in the 1990s, Minnesota still made progress over the last decade, said Libby Starling, research manager for the Metropolitan Council.
"Unlike some of the other areas in the Midwest we saw eight percent population growth over the decade of the 2000s," she said. "Now this population growth compares to 15 percent in the previous decade. So growth has certainly slowed but given the recession it's still good news the region is continuing to add population."
The sole winner among Minnesota's largest cities was Rochester, which grew by more than 24 percent.
Rochester Planning director Phil Wheeler said most people came for jobs in the health and education sectors.
"Without that growth, we would've had a 6,000-job decline," he said.
Wheeler most of the newcomers to Rochester were domestic transplants. Many were minorities.
In fact, many Minnesota communities saw increases in their minority populations. The Met Council reports that in 1990, there were six communities in Minnesota where at least 10 percent of the population were people of color. By last year, that number had grown to 73 percent.
Among Minnesota's minorities, Hispanics saw the biggest growth -- but that's because their numbers were relatively small to begin with. The number of Hispanics grew by nearly 75 percent to more than 250,000.
African-Americans remain Minnesota's largest minority group. The number of blacks grew by 59 percent to more than 274,000. The number of Asians increased by 51 percent to 214,000.
People of color now make up nearly one out of every four people in the Twin Cities area. About 24 percent of people in the metro are are minorities -- up from 10 percent in 1990.
But Minnesota is still catching up with the rest of the nation, state Demographer Tom Gillaspy said
"This is not a particularly diverse corner of the country but it's an area that is experiencing change," Gillaspy said. "Part of what's driving that change is when people from other parts of the country move here, they resemble the average American and when people move from here, they resemble the average Minnesotan. Those two populations are quite different."
Overall, 85 percent of state residents are white, compared to 87 percent in 2000.
As for population, Minneapolis, St Paul and their closest suburbs stayed the same size while the outlying Twin Cities suburbs of Shakopee, Lakeville, Woodbury, Blaine and Maple Grove boomed, Starling said.
"These are communities that are planning for growth that are eager to see population growth," she said. "They have the services and amenities in place to attract growth, and people are responding to those incentives."
Scott, Wright, Carver and Sherburne counties each grew by more than a third. Scott County led the way with a population increase of 45 percent. Many people who moved there are people with young children or are people planning to have children, Starling said.
The Twin Cities metro area, in contrast, was home to more retirees, empty-nesters and young professionals without children.
Minneapolis remains the state's biggest city, with a population of nearly 383,000. The city added households, but its population decreased by about 40 people since 2000.
St Paul lost both households and residents, with a 2010 population of 285,000, down less than 1 percent since 2000.
Gillaspy said static metro populations and suburban expansion was a common theme nationwide. He said most of the growth came in the early part of the last decade, during the housing boom. The growth ended when the housing boom went bust.
"That urban sprawl seems to be mostly stopped," he said. "It's just dead in the water. The question is: will it return?"
Gillaspy said the answer may depend on how quickly gas prices rise and how much people are willing to pay for their commute.
- Morning Edition, 03/17/2011, 8:41 a.m.