Twin Cities fuel Minnesota's population gains, Census data show

Across the U.S., people moved to cities and suburbs over the past decade -- and it's no different in Minnesota.

The seven-county Twin Cities Metro grew to nearly 3.2 million people in 2020, an increase of 313,537, or 11 percent, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate. The Metro was responsible for 78 percent of Minnesota's overall population growth, while some rural parts of the state saw sharp depopulation.

The Census numbers kick off the redistricting process in Minnesota. Lawmakers get the first shot at redrawing the state's political maps, though the process is destined for the courts because the state Legislature is divided.

Minnesota grows more diverse

Minnesota's overall population of 5.7 million was 77.5 percent white in 2020, down from 83.1 percent a decade earlier, U.S. Census and Minnesota Demographic Center data indicate.

The state's minority population grew to nearly 1.3 million people in 2020, up from 989,783, accounting for almost all the state's growth. The state's white population was stagnant from 2010 to 2020.

Which counties grew the fastest?

Nine counties saw population increases of 10 percent or more:

  • Carver: 17.4%
  • Scott: 16.2%
  • Wright: 13.3%
  • Olmsted: 12.9%
  • Washington: 12.4%
  • Hennepin: 11.2%
  • Clay: 10.7%
  • Dakota: 10.4%
  • Anoka: 10%

Which counties shrunk the most?

Thirty-five counties in northern, western and southern Minnesota saw population declines over the decade. Five counties saw the sharpest decreases:

  • Koochiching: -9.4%
  • Yellow Medicine: -8.7%
  • Kittson: -7.6%
  • Lac qui Parle: -7.4%
  • Lake of the Woods: -7.0%

What does the population shift mean?

Earlier this year, the Census Bureau announced that Minnesota would hang onto all eight of its congressional seats by the thinnest margin in decades. Now, lawmakers -- or the courts -- must redraw political boundaries to reflect the population changes.

Because of the depopulation in rural counties, Minnesota's 1st, 7th and 8th congressional districts will expand to include more area. On the other hand, the districts closest to the Metro will become more compact. The same is true for state legislative districts.

Beyond that, what the maps will ultimately look like is uncertain.

Redistricting in Minnesota typically ends up in the courts. This year will likely be no different because Democrats control the governor's office and House, while Republicans oversee the Senate.

How does Minnesota compare to the U.S.?

Minnesota gained 402,569 people over the decade, an increase of 7.6 percent. That's slightly better than the nationwide growth of 7.4 percent, which was the slowest U.S. population increase since the 1930s.

Minnesota was among the fastest-growing Midwest states. It had a nation-leading 75.1 percent Census response rate.