Map Monday: Population Growth in Minnesota Counties

As a follow-up to Friday’s Chart of the Day showing a scatterplot of Minnesota population change versus population level, here is a map showing that population change spatially (i.e. geographically):

2010 to 2015 population change (in percentage) by county. Map by the author.

2010 to 2015 population change (in percentage) by county. Map by the author.

As discussed in the Friday thread, the largest counties in the state tended to grow while the smallest counties tended to shrink. While the largest percentage gains are generally in and around the Twin Cities metro area, they are by no means limited to the Twin Cities, with significant gains noted in Olmsted (Rochester) and Clay (Moorhead) Counties.

Meanwhile, the largest percentage losses tended to be clusered around southern and western Minnesota. These counties are by and large agricultural counties with an aging population and little else in the way of economic opportunity.

There are a few outliers as well. Cook and Mahnomen Counties are two of the least populated counties in the state (#83 and #81 respectively), yet both saw gains. Meanwhile, St. Louis County, which comprises of Duluth and much of the Iron Range, is the 6th most populated county in the state yet its change could be considered a rounding error (effectively zero). Winona County is also a large populated county (by Minnesota standards, sitting at #19), but saw a drop in population.

What do you see in the map? is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

, , ,

8 Responses to Map Monday: Population Growth in Minnesota Counties

  1. Janne Flisrand March 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    I’m curious about how these percentage changes play out in absolute number terms. Side by side, that would be very interesting.

    • Matt Brillhart March 28, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

      Here’s a link to the Census Bureau’s county-level 2015 estimates for MN:
      City-level 2015 estimates should be released in the coming months.

        County 2010 — 2015(est) Growth

      Anoka 330,844 344,151 +13,307
      Carver 91,042 98,741 +7,699
      Dakota 398,552 414,686 +16,134
      Hennepin 1,152,425 1,223,149 +70,724
      Ramsey 508,640 538,133 +29,493
      Scott 129,928 141,660 +11,732
      Washington 238,136 251,597 +13,461

    • Adam Froehlig
      Adam Froehlig March 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

      This map is probably “too busy”, but here’s an attempt to put together what you’re looking for:

      • Janne March 29, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

        That’s amazing, Adam. I was actually thinking of two maps side by side (’cause, yeah, busy), but I love the superimposition.

  2. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller March 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    The cluster of moderate growth in the northwest part of the state is interesting. It looks like that’s the areas around Detroit Lakes and Bemidji, along with Crow Wing County a bit to the southeast. Maybe that’s growth in the lake resort areas?

    • Adam Froehlig
      Adam Froehlig March 30, 2016 at 9:57 am #

      Clay County is probably proximity to Fargo (Moorhead is the Clay County seat). I’d agree that Becker (Detroit Lakes), Crow Wing (Brainerd), Beltrami (Bemidji) and Clearwater (Bagley/Lake Itasca) Counties are what you suggest…lake resort areas. I also know that, at least in Crow Wing County, there are a number of people who have retired to their lake homes, so that may be driving some of the increase as well. My uncle did the same thing, retiring to my grandfather’s old cabin in Cass County, but the numbers suggest it’s much less prevalent in Cass.

    • Adam Froehlig
      Adam Froehlig March 30, 2016 at 9:58 am #

      Forgot to add: not sure what’s going on in Pennington County. Thief River Falls is there, but there isn’t much in the way of lake resorts. Is there something going on in TRF that is driving that county’s growth?

      • Cobo Rodrigues March 30, 2016 at 10:24 am #

        Major employer digikey is doing well

Note on Comments welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on!