Chart of the Day: Minnesota Population via Sankey

Here’s a beautiful chart for you, from a Reddit thread I once happened across. It’s a “Sankey diagram” showing the population of the state broken up by type of city / region / type of urban or rural environment.

Check it out:

It’s both beautiful and informative! Thanks to Reddit user aphid43 for making it.

If you’re curious about more of the work behind the chart, check out the Reddit discussion.

By the way, the most famous Sankey diagram is probably the one showing Napoleon invading Russia by French data viz pioneer Charles Josef Minard.

What do both diagrams have in common? That’s right: harsh winters, though hopefully Minnesota’s population does better than Napoleon’s army. 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.


18 Responses to Chart of the Day: Minnesota Population via Sankey

  1. Tom Quinn March 21, 2018 at 1:40 pm #

    That’s a really interesting view of the make-up of Minnesota’s population.

    Now if St. Paul and Minneapolis would only merge and annex the surrounding communities, we’d gave a great and nationally competitive metropolitan area of 4 million.

    • Daniel Hartig
      kingledion March 22, 2018 at 9:21 am #

      Why isn’t Minneapolis-St. Paul a great and nationally competitive metropolitan area?

      • Tom Quinn March 22, 2018 at 10:21 am #

        I read an article years ago that has stick with me. It described how southern cities, like Dallas, grow through annexation while northern cities, like Minneapolis don’t. The result is that the MSP metropolitan area is comprised of something like 120 distinct municipalities, each with their own government structure, police chief, fire, and the rest. It’s inefficient and wasteful and makes it hard to economically compete with more efficient urban areas.

        I’m also tired of the constant squabbling between St. Paul and Minneapolis. Of what value is any comparison of size, culture, jobs between the two?

        I’d eliminate half the counties in the state as well, if I had my druthers.

        • Aaron Berger March 22, 2018 at 12:51 pm #

          Dear Mr. President,
          There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. I am NOT a crackpot.

          • Aaron Berger March 22, 2018 at 12:55 pm #

            By the way I’m totally on board about eliminating duplicative administration, the comment just reminded me of Grandpa Simpson which made me laugh. I will say it could definitely be worse than we have it here. My in-laws’ city just west of Chicago is just under 4 square miles and has two school districts and two park districts.

        • Shawn March 22, 2018 at 3:44 pm #

          I dunno, we have plenty of fortune 500 businesses here. Why should towns give up their identities just for the sake of economics? It’s not exactly like our state and sub regions are hurting for government funds, jobs, or wages.

        • Daniel Hartig
          kingledion March 23, 2018 at 11:40 am #

          That is called diversity. In Houston, if the city government does something stupid 1500 km^2 and 2.3 million people have to deal with the consequences. If Harris County does something stupid 4400 km^2 and 4.5 million people have to deal with it.

          In Minnesota, only the state government can screw things up. Well, the feds can (and will!) too, but that’s the same everywhere in the US. Multiple jurisdictions means one set of foolishness (like a $15 dollar minimum wage, for example) can’t screw everyone.

          • Tom Quinn March 23, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

            I agree. Our fragmented structure makes dealing with issues slow, ponderous, and inefficient. It’s a good way to inhibit change, if inhibiting change is the way you want to do.

    • Eric Saathoff
      Eric Saathoff March 22, 2018 at 8:44 pm #

      I’d rather we grow up than out. Sprawl isn’t helpful.

  2. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke March 21, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    Saint Paul’s suburbs are perhaps understated by not including Dakota or Washington Counties?

    • Daniel Hartig
      kingledion March 22, 2018 at 9:38 am #

      According to the Census, Saint Paul has 125,000 jobs while Minneapolis has 225,000 jobs. The St. Paul jobs pay $5.6 billion while Minneapolis pays $14.4 billion. St. Paul is better seen itself as a suburb of Minneapolis.

      • Eric Saathoff
        Eric Saathoff March 22, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

        or we could make a goal to become a real city, aggressively upzone, and increase our population.

      • GlowBoy March 23, 2018 at 11:40 am #

        As far as I know, it’s pretty unusual for a suburb to be more than half the size of (and older than) the core city. St. Paul has a functioning urban core and is not a suburb. The Twin Cities are two formerly separate, large cities that, due to a bend in the Mississippi River, grew together.

  3. Tim March 21, 2018 at 2:25 pm #

    I’ve seen this type of graph on reddit quite a bit lately, and I really like this graph. I think more explanation about “The Rest” would be helpful, and the “Other MSP Counties” deserve to be broken down further (Scott, Dakota, Washington, etc). Definitely puts outstate Minnesota into perspective.

  4. John Maddening March 21, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

    I had heard that Saint Paul was back to 300,000 again, how old is this data?

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke March 21, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

      Not sure but probably 10 years old is my guess.

    • Daniel Hartig
      kingledion March 22, 2018 at 9:30 am #

      The numbers are actually all over the place; I don’t know if they are very well sourced.

      Minneapolis’ given figure is the 2013 census estimate; in 2016 it is 413,651.

      St. Paul’s given figure is the 2010 census estimate (not the 2010 official census count); in 2016 it is 302,398.

      Hennepin county’s figure doesn’t match anything I can find, although it is only a few hundred off the 2013 census estimate. In 2017 (the county 2017 estimates are out, the cities are not) the number is 1,252,024.

      Ramsey’s also doesn’t match anything, its 2017 figure is 547,974.

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