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Census: The 10 Minnesota counties that grew — and shrunk — the most over the past decade

The U.S. Census Bureau revealed the new figures this week.

The Twin Cities, already Minnesota's most populous region, saw some of the fastest population growth across the state over the past decade, while at the same time nearly three dozen rural counties saw their populations shrink.

This comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, which on Thursday revealed new findings based on the 2020 census. The situation in Minnesota mirrors much of what happened nationally: Metro areas grew as many counties lost residents.

Across the U.S., 312 of the country's 384 designated metro areas saw their population increase, according to the Census Bureau. As of 2020, 86% of people in America live in metropolitan areas, up from 85% in 2010.

In Minnesota, six of the seven Twin Cities region counties added residents at a rate faster than much of the rest of the state, with Wright, Cook and Sherburne the only other Minnesota counties to grow by at least 10%.

But most areas of America actually lost residents over the past decade. The Census Bureau said more than half of all U.S. counties were smaller in 2020 than in 2010. 

In Minnesota, 35 counties saw their population drop during that time, many of them along the edges of the state, particularly in the west, northwest and southwest.

Nationally, the white population remains the largest single race or ethnicity group. But the number of people identifying as "white alone" (meaning not white in combination with any other race or ethnicity) dropped, falling 8.6%. The multiracial population, meanwhile, has skyrocketed, up from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million people in 2020.

In Minnesota specifically, the "white alone" population fell by 2.2%, meaning a change of 100,916 fewer people. As of 2020, 77.5% of the state's population identifies as white alone. The number of people identifying as two or more races climbed by 220,576, an increase of 176.3%. That group now accounts for 6.1% of the state's population. 

The Census Bureau, however, says to be cautious with race and ethnicity comparisons, as the questions and coding method changed between the 2010 and 2020 census, 

Here's a look at the 10 Minnesota counties that grew the most (by percentage change) over the past decade:

  • Carver +17.4% — (15,880 new residents)
  • Scott +16.2% — (21,000)
  • Wright +13.3% — (16,637)
  • Olmsted +12.9% — (18,599)
  • Washington +12.4% — (29,432)
  • Hennepin +11.2% — (129,140)
  • Clay +10.7% — (6,319)
  • Dakota +10.4%  — 41,330)
  • Anoka +10% — (33,043)
  • Sherburne +9.8% — (8,684)

And here are the 10 that lost the highest percentage of residents:

  • Koochiching -9.4% — (1,249 fewer residents)
  • Yellow Medicine -8.7% — (910)
  • Kittson -7.6% — (345)
  • Lac qui Parle -7.4% — (540)
  • Lake of the Woods -7% — (282)
  • Renville -6.4% — (1,007)
  • Murray -6.3% — (546)
  • Norman -6% — (411)
  • Traverse -5.6% — (198)
  • Faribault, Lincoln -4.3% — ( 632, 256)

Minnesota as a whole gained 402,569 people from 2010-2020, an increase of 7.6%. It was the 20th fastest growing state during that span.

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