Minnesota’s decline: Why Minnesota may lose a congressional seat in 2020

As we await the end of the legislative session, Minnesota’s population numbers and growth are in the news, driven by a preliminary report from the Metropolitan Council that estimates current population for the Metro.  The report, required by state statute, will set LGA funding for the Metro.

As reported in the Pioneer Press: “Growth in the urban cores of Minneapolis and St. Paul continue to spur the region’s population gains, according to a new report by the Metropolitan Council…The preliminary report, released Tuesday, says the seven-county metro area grew by 191,628 residents between 2010 and 2016. Both St. Paul and Minneapolis saw significant gains: St. Paul’s population grew to 304,442 in 2016… Minneapolis’ population hit 419,952 in 2016.”

I checked in with the state demographer’s office (because I do not trust the Met Council’s methodology or integrity) and confirmed that there has been a notable uptick in the number of residents in the two core cities. Where are people coming from?

Out of the 5.49 million people in the state, about half a million (457,200 as of 2015) were born outside of the United States. The news reports I read did not mention that the only net positive growth as a state is from foreign-born residents.

Or that people from Minnesota are leaving, and people from the U.S. are not moving here, in sufficient numbers to help Minnesota grow.

We recommend reporters visit the State Demographer’s website where one can find detailed reports on just how Minnesota is growing—and how Minnesota is declining, demographically speaking.

A short report called “Ada to Zumbrota”  underlines the state’s demographic trends that may cost the state a Congressional district following the 2020 Census. One conclusion from the report: “As deaths are predicted to outnumber births in 2040, migration in Minnesota is going to become increasingly important if Minnesota is to continue growing.”

Here are some highlights and a new graph for you to consider:

While both the U.S.-born population and foreign-born population have grown since 1970, the foreign-born population has swelled more quickly…Minnesota had about 113,000 foreign-born residents in 1990, but that number had more than quadrupled to about 457,200 residents by 2015.

Some of that growth is from refugees settled her by the State Department: the Minnesota Department of Health reports that between 2010 and 2016, Minnesota welcomed about 16,571 refugees. (The Department of Human Services puts the number at 15,808). Since 1979, the State Department has placed approximately 105,000 refugees in Minnesota. (Minnesota is also a favored destination for “secondary” refugees, people who are settled by the State Department in another state but move to Minnesota. Secondary migrants are not in the official count of refugees; we are working on getting those numbers.)

Back to the report:

In terms of percentage change, natural increase (births minus deaths) has historically been slower in Minnesota than the U.S. average. However, Minnesota’s foreign-born percentage change began far outpacing national trends between 1985 and 1995 and continues to do so (in part because our number of immigrants are a small fraction of all those in the nation).

The net change for Minnesota’s foreign-born population between 1990 and 2000 alone was 13% annually. By comparison, population growth due to natural increase in Minnesota was less than 1% annually during those same years. (see Figure 2).


Since 2002, Minnesota has maintained consistent annual domestic out-migration – that is, more people moving out of Minnesota to other states than people moving into Minnesota from other states. The most recent year of data, 2015, shows that Minnesota had about 13,700 (net) international migrants and about -1,800 (net) domestic migrants. In sum, our international arrivals rescued us from experiencing negative overall migration, resulting in a total (net) migration of about 11,900 arrivals in 2015. (bolding added)

With deaths projected to outnumber births in 2040, international migration is going to continue to be crucial for population growth in Minnesota. Our state’s domestic migration has been steadily negative since 2002, a concerning trend that we must work to reverse. New neighbors from other countries (and states, if we can turn the tide on domestic migration), will be especially needed to fill jobs and keep our communities vital in the decades ahead.  (bolding added)

State trends do not tell us what demographic is driving the growth in the Metro area but it seems reasonable to assume that many foreign-born residents, especially refugees, are making their home in the Metro area at least initially (before perhaps finding housing and hopefully work elsewhere in the state).

What do these trends tell us about our state?

It is no surprise that Minnesota is attractive to immigrants and refugees. Who would not want to live here (no jokes about the weather, please).

But why is Minnesota so unattractive to its own population—or to people from around the U.S.?

The answer is simple: state and local policies are hostile to good jobs and economic growth. Liberal social policies are also obnoxious to most Minnesotans; we are a very tolerant and generous people but the liberal elite goes too far, driving people with better options away.

Here we are, waiting for the outcome of the legislative session. What message will our leaders send when the Governor and legislators go home?

We have three years to turn this around before the 2020 Census. Time is of the essence.