Twin Cities Population Growth: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

New U.S. Census Bureau data yields mixed results for the Twin Cities.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – New data from the Census Bureau yields mixed results for the Twin Cities metro area population growth.

From 2010-2016, the Twin Cities has had positive population growth. However, the latest numbers show Minneapolis-St. Paul lagging behind other similar mid-size metropolitan areas. There is also the growing concern over Minnesota’s domestic migration trends.

The Good

The Twin Cities metro area has grown six percent since 2010, adding over 200,000 people. About 75 percent of this increase comes from a positive birth rate, or what is referred to as natural growth. There were over 147,000 more births than deaths since 2010. The rest of the population increase came from migration.

The six percent growth rate is higher than the national average, outpacing New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the United States.  

Minneapolis-St. Paul is the 16th largest metropolis in the country with 3.5 million people.

The Bad

While the Twin Cities area is growing faster than the national average, it is lagging in comparison to other mid-size cities.

Greater MSP, the region’s economic development agency, lists eleven peer cities that are comparable to the Twin Cities in both demographics and economy. The list of peer cities include Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Pittsburgh.

Of the eleven peer cities, the Twin Cities ranks ninth for growth since 2010. Austin leads the pack with a 19.8 percent growth over the last six years. Denver grew 12.2 percent, over twice as fast as Minneapolis-St. Paul. Seattle grew 10.4 percent.

Chicago, the only other Midwestern city, fell below Minneapolis-St. Paul with only 0.5 percent growth. While Chicago has positive natural growth, it loses more residents to other states than it gains. This negative domestic migration tanks their growth rate.

Pittsburgh is the only peer city to have a negative growth rate. The city has a negative natural growth rate, with over 20,000 more deaths than births. Pittsburgh has lost 0.6 percent of its population since 2010.

The Ugly

Much like its peer city Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul has a glaring issue in domestic migration. As Alpha News previously reported, Minnesota loses more residents to other states than it gains.

This is not a new problem for Minnesota. Domestic migration for the state has been net negative since 2002.

Data from Minnesota’s Demography Department show that Minnesota primarily loses residents to border states North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Florida, Texas, and California. The Twin Cities area suffers the most from the domestic migration.

Common reasons residents are fleeing both Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul include high tax rates and the weather. Chicago has the added challenge of high crime rates driving people out.

The saving grace for Minneapolis-St. Paul is a higher rate of international migration compared to domestic migration. Unlike Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul is able to make up for the loss in domestic migration through consistent international migration which keeps the total migration numbers positive. Since 2010, the Twin Cities region has gained over 65,000 foreign-born residents. Part of this can be attributed to Minnesota’s generous acceptance of refugees.

In comparison, Denver and Seattle, both peer cities with a higher rate of growth than the Twin Cities, have positive domestic and international migration. Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, both cities in Texas, which Minnesota is losing residents to, have significantly higher domestic migration rates than international.

Overall, the data may have mixed results for the Twin Cities, but on the whole, the region shows positive population trends. Population growth has stayed consistent since 2010, and the region remains in the top 25 largest metropolises in the country. A shift in domestic migration for the positive would potentially bring the Twin Cities more inline with its peer cities.

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Christine Bauman
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