Minnesota is becoming more metropolitan, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to statistics analyzed by the Metropolitan Council, the population in the 7-county Metropolitan area has surpassed 3 million for the first time, growing at a rate of 5.7 percent since April 1, 2010. By contrast the population in the rest of Minnesota has grown by less than one percent.
Minnesota’s 2015 population estimate is around 5,457,000, according to the Census Bureau.
This should come as no surprise to most Minnesotans. The Twin Cities metro area has consistently drawn more people and more growth that the Greater Minnesota area in past several years. It is a concern to us in the Greater Minnesota area politically. More people in the Metro area means more legislators that area after the 2020 census when legislative districts will be redrawn. Fifty-five percent of the population is metro, and if the metro population continues to grow at six times the rate of outstate population, that percentage will increase. So 55 percent or more of legislators will represent metro districts.
As metro and outstate areas compete for the state’s limited resources in things like transportation and public investment in capital projects through bonding, that margin will make it harder for outstate areas to gain its fair share.
There’s not a lot that can be done to reverse this trend, but the state can strive to make the outstate area more competitive, by extending broadband services throughout the state, by improving and maintaining essential road systems, and by assuring that small towns in Minnesota are able to provide the services their citizens want and need through a fair and reliable Local Government Aid program.