Here’s an interesting map from a blogpost by the terrific Chicago-based writer, Aaron Renn. The map comes from a Pew Charitable Trust report that offers some population projections. This one shows the “workforce” data, the number of people in the peak working demographic of 25-54.
Here you go:
It’s interesting to me because Minneapolis / Saint Paul’s most frequent comparison cities are Denver and Seattle. Compared to those places, our population growth is lagging.
But one reason for that might be the different geographic context of Minnesota. Because it’s in the upper Midwest instead of the fast-growing West or Northwest, we have a lot more inertia when it comes to adding jobs or population. Wisconsin or Illinois just to the East are facing some pretty bleak looking economic prospects.
Here’s what Renn says:
What’s going to change the migration of population to the South and West? While change is always possible, it’s not obvious what might cause it.
Cities and states need to think hard about what this means for them. It seems to me is that one effect will be to fuel intrastate divergence, as success pools into islands in an era of overall shrinkage. You can argue we’re already seeing this.
For most localities who aren’t among the favored winners, the reality is that they need to do what I advocated for Buffalo, and find a new psychology of civic improvement that isn’t rooted in growth – in population, jobs, or building stock. (I should add, Buffalo is in a far better position than most and could enjoy a relatively bright future – but it probably won’t be a big growth story)
Renn goes on to offer advice for cities and regions that don’t have growth on the horizon. Luckily, Minnesota (and especially the Twin Cities) don’t quite have to worry about an economic plateau. But it’s worth pondering how our regional economic context makes our challenges a bit different than those of other regions of the country.