Publish date:

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.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-09-16 at 6.56.30 PM

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for central MN, part of Twin Cities

A line of storms is making its way across the state.

Flickr - Enbridge Line 3 Palisade - Lorie Shaull

DNR orders Enbridge to pay $3.32M over Line 3 environmental violations

The pipeline company breached a groundwater aquifer, causing water to flow uncontrolled into a trench.

Eric Kendricks

Eric Kendricks misses practice, lands on injury report

The star linebacker headlines a lengthy list ahead of Week 2.

WIkimedia commons covid vaccine moderna

3 Twin Cities counties reach 16+ vaccination rate of 80%

More than 8 in 10 residents of that age group have gotten at least one dose.

Flickr - Burlington store exterior -

New Burlington location opens in Minneapolis Friday

To celebrate, the company is donating $50K to a neighborhood group and nearby school.

Top Ten Liquors Minnetonka rendering

Top Ten Liquors plans another Twin Cities location

The high-end wine bar and grocery space would take over a former Champps.

London Michael Bean go fund me

Teen charged with fatal shooting of 12-year-old London Bean

A warrant has been issued for the 18-year-old's arrest.

Minnesota Wild

Wild announce national TV broadcast schedule

The Wild will have 13 games nationally televised this season

suni lee

St. Paul's Suni Lee named to Time's list of 100 Most Influential People

Lee won three medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including an all-around gold.

Dunn County WI homicide suspect

1 arrested in quadruple killing, with 'armed and dangerous' suspect at large

The four victims were found in an abandoned SUV in rural Wisconsin.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Rape, incest suspect from Indiana is caught in St. Cloud

The 40-year-old was found in an apartment building.

Rep Tim Miller mn leg

MN rep calls upholding of TX abortion law 'great news for America'

Rep. Tim Miller also outlined a new abortion-related bill he plans to introduce.



Gov. Walz urges Census Bureau to extend deadline to Oct. 31

Currently, the Census Bureau will end its field operations to count everyone in the U.S. at the end of September.

Pixabay - crowd park outdoors CROP

New forecast predicts more than 4 million Twin Cities residents by 2050

The Met Council believes job opportunities will also steadily grow.

Pixaba - vaccine covid shot

10 Minnesota counties have now hit 70% adult vaccination rate

The more transmissible Delta variant is adding urgency to the vaccination effort.


Latest Census estimates suggest MN could lose congressional seat

Minnesota's population has grown, but not quickly enough.

Pexels - woman shop mask covid CROP

35 counties, including most of Twin Cities, now COVID hotspots

The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in public, indoor places in these counties.

Pexels - jogging running shoes

6 Minnesota counties rank among the 100 healthiest in the US

That's according to the latest ranking from U.S. News.

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

The 14 MN counties with 'substantial or high' COVID-19 transmission

The CDC says everyone in these areas should wear a mask in indoor public places.