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Twin Cities population to grow more diverse, elderly by 2040

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The Great Minnesota Get-Together
The population of the Twin Cities metro area will increase in numbers, grow more elderly, and become more diverse by the year 2040, according to a new report released by the Metropolitan Council. More than 460,000 people are expected to immigrate to the metro area from other countries. Eighty-three percent of these immigrants will be people of color.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel

The population of the Twin Cities metro area will grow, age and become more diverse by the year 2040, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Council. 

The Met Council report on the seven-county metro is based on the latest Census figures. It projects the senior population will grow in number, as will racial minorities and young people.

That trend overall is positive for the Twin Cities, said Met Council Chair Sue Haigh.

"This metropolitan economy is strong and we are going to continue to grow here, but the region is also really going to change because it is also going to be much more diverse," Haigh said. "We are projecting that over 40 percent of our region by 2040 will be people of color."

That's nearly double the current percentage.

The seven-county region is projected to gain 893,000 people over the next three decades. Two-thirds of that growth will come from births outpacing deaths. The remainder will come from migration.

More than 460,000 people are expected to immigrate to the metro area from other countries. Eighty-three percent of these immigrants will be people of color.

The Hispanic population is expected to nearly triple from 168,000 in 2010 to 479,000 in 2040. The Black and Asian populations are expected to more than double, while the non-Hispanic White population is expected to shrink by 2 percent.

The next 30 years will be a demographic transformation for the region. Met Council researcher Todd Graham said.

"And at the same time that young families are moving to the region from other parts of the country or other parts of the world we also have baby boomer couples with children who are leaving home, and those married baby boomer couples are becoming empty nest households," Graham said.

The number of people age 65 and older in the metro is expected to increase sharply from just over 300,000 in 2010 to 770,000 seniors by 2040.

And because seniors tend to live alone, the Met Council predicts that most of the new households will be one-person and childless two-person households.

Met Council researchers predict the mix of young people will change dramatically, as well. The population of people of color under age 25 will double by the year 2040. At the same time, the number of white school-age children will drop by 20 percent.

Researchers found that more than half of the projected households will have just one income by 2040.

Those single income households will require a change in regional planning, said researcher Libby Starling. Senior citizens will likely need smaller homes and more access to transit.

"When we think about what types of housing will be affordable to households with only one income," Starling said, "we'll need to think about what that mix looks like and how the region's policies can ensure that there is an adequate mix of housing affordability."

Affordability, she says, will be particularly important as immigrant households with children tend to be larger and need more space.

The report released Wednesday is preliminary. The Met Council will continue to research trends for the region and for local communities over the next year. Officials expect that work to be complete in 2013.