10-year map masks population shift

We’ve gotten used to Minnesota population growth maps that look like this, with an intensely colored ring around the Twin Cities:

2010 census map.JPG

For decades, the collar counties around Minneapolis and St. Paul have led the state’s growth, leaping up by 3 and 4 percent a year. And the map the Census Bureau put out today shows more of the same — growth by 15 or 20 or 25 percent in those collar counties between 2000 and 2010.

But that’s not really what’s going on today. For the past three or four years, the growth in those counties looks more like the growth in the core counties of Hennepin and Ramsey, says state demographer Tom Gillaspy, about 1 percent a year. His office puts out population estimates every year.

So if you compare the Census Bureau’s new 2010 numbers with the state’s earlier, mid-decade estimates you find that Anoka, Dakota, Scott and Carver counties have exhibited slight population losses either in the past year or since 2007, when the economy started to turn. Some of that, of course, could reflect methodoloy and the way the state makes its estimates, but the trend of slower suburban growth is clear nonetheless.

And look at the ex-urban formerly fast-growth county of Sherburne to the northwest of the Twin Cities. It added about 24,000 people in the past decade and is among the dark blue counties on the map. But only 2,000 of that growth arrived since 2007. Wright and Isanti, too, have slowed, Gillaspy said.

What that means is when you see this same map in 10 years, the ring around the collar may be gone.

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