Census data confirms suburban growth, greater diversity in Minn.

U.S. Census 2010 form
Copies of the 2010 Census forms.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Minnesota has become slightly more racially diverse, and Minneapolis and St. Paul have lagged behind population growth in other parts of the state over the past 10 years.

Those are just a few of the trends found in 2010 census data that state and local officials will examine as they re-draw voting districts and plan government services for the future.

The results of the annual American Community Survey already provided officials with information about Minnesota's population and diversity trends. The survey has replaced the long-form of the census used to track things like poverty and English proficiency.

But the release of the new data gives officials detailed counts of the people who live in a particular urban neighborhood or small town. It also provides more detailed demographic information.

The U.S. Census Bureau released highlights of the 2010 count on Wednesday and provided some data tables to the public on its website.

The census data shows the Twin Cities suburbs are booming when compared to Minneapolis and St. Paul, whose populations stayed flat over 10 years. Overall, Minnesota has grown by 8 percent since 2000, but Metropolitan Council Research Director Libby Starling said it represents a slowdown because the state grew by about 15 percent from 1990-2000.

Starling said many people buying homes inside the Twin Cities are empty-nesters or young professionals. That's not the case in the outer suburbs, she said.

"Many of the areas that are adding households are attracting the stereotypical young families. So, families who have children, families who are planning to have children are buying the new homes in suburban developments," Starling said.

The population of Minneapolis was 382,578 in 2010, and St. Paul's was 285,068. Among the 20 most populous cities in the state, six of the seven that had double-digit percentages of growth were suburbs: Brooklyn Park (up 13 percent), Woodbury (up 33 percent), Maple Grove (up 22 percent), Eden Prairie (up 11 percent), Blaine (up 27 percent) and Lakeville (up 30 percent).

The Twin Cities, Rochester, Duluth and Bloomington remain Minnesota's five largest cities. Rochester grew by 24 percent.

"We don't have any mountains or oceans and our climate is -- sometimes it sucks. So the reason people move here is jobs and family kinds of things," Rochester Planning director Phil Wheeler said in reaction to the numbers.

Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic, and Wheeler said most job growth over the past 10 years was in the health sector. Without that sector, the city would have had a decline of about 6,000 jobs, he said.

Duluth's population, meanwhile, remained flat. Mayor Don Ness wants the city to have 90,000 residents by 2020, which would reverse the declining population trends Duluth saw in the 1980s because of a downturn in the taconite industry. In 2010 Duluth's population was 86,265.

"Twenty years ago, we could take pride in the fact that we were no longer losing population. Today, we are no longer satisfied with maintaining the status quo," Ness said, adding that he's confident the city can reach the goal. "But it won't happen without community business leaders making a firm commitment to achieve this important goal."

County growth was also most robust in the outer Twin Cities suburbs. Scott, Wright, Carver and Sherburne counties each grew by more than 30 percent. Scott led the way with a population increase of 45 percent.

The biggest losses were in Swift, Kittson, Traverse, Lake of the Woods, Faribault and Lac qui Parle counties, which each lost at least 10 percent of their populations. However, some of those counties are among the least populated, making any decrease look big in terms of percentage. But Swift lost 2,173 people, the second largest number of residents from 2000 to 2010 after Ramsey County.

As for racial diversity, the census data shows that whites make up a smaller percentage of the state's overall population. But Minnesota is still 85 percent white, compared to 87 percent white in 2000.

Still, the number of Hispanics in Minnesota grew by 74.5 percent to 250,258, while the number of blacks grew by 59.4 percent to 274,412. The number of Asians increased by 51 percent to 214,234.

Among the state's 20 most populous counties, Ramsey County has the smallest percentage of whites at 70 percent. Among the state's biggest cities, Brooklyn Park has the smallest percentage of whites at 52 percent.

(MPR News reporter Rupa Shenoy contributed to this report.)

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