Minnesota News

The new place to live in Minnesota? Wright County

Wright County is Minnesota's fastest growing county so far this decade.

Map: Wright County
Wright County has grown more than four percent since 2020.
William Lager | MPR News

The population of central Minnesota’s Wright County has grown by more than 4 percent since 2020, making it the state’s fastest growing county according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday.

The Bureau’s new data shows that the state’s population overall is barely budging, growing by 0.1 percent over the past two years. That comes from a balance of population growth in 49 of the state’s 87 counties and population loss in the remaining 38. Like the state as a whole, estimated population changes are relatively small, plus or minus less than 1 percent, in 45 counties.

Beyond Wright County, where the estimated population is now 148,000, four other counties have grown by at least 3 percent so far this decade including: Cass, Sherburne, Isanti and Mille Lacs counties. Those counties are all in the state’s central lakes region, with two of them including parts of the state’s fast growing metro area centered on St. Cloud.

Numerically Washington County has gained the most of all Minnesota Counties, adding an estimated 7,540 residents so far this decade.

On a percentage basis, the counties losing the most population so far this decade include several smaller rural counties – Kittson, Traverse, Chippewa and Wilken – as well as Ramsey County, which is home to St. Paul and the state’s second most populous county.

On a numeric basis, the state’s two largest counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, have lost far and away more people than any other. Hennepin County, home to Minneapolis and its suburbs, lost more residents — 21,447 — than any other county so far this decade.

Ramsey County has lost over 15,000 residents, second only to Hennepin, and losing far more than the third highest ranking loss, the 532 person decline in Duluth’s home county, St. Louis.

Hennepin County is still the state’s largest by far. It is home to 1.26 million residents, or 22 percent of the state’s population (now estimated to be 5,717,184).

Population change in among Minnesota’s counties pales in comparison to some other parts of the country. According to the Census Bureau, Washington state’s Whitman County grew by a nation-leading 10.1 percent in the past year alone, while Arizona’s Maricopa County grew by nearly 57,000 people. And while Hennepin County’s 1.26 million people is large, it is only a fraction of the estimated 9.72 million people who now live in the nation’s largest county, Los Angeles.