Rural Minnesota is facing shrinking populations, placing challenges on schools districts. While overall Minnesota population grew 2.9 percent from 2010-2014, 41 Minnesota counties declined in population—all of them rural counties. Find your county’s population change.
In general, Minnesota mirrors the nation as a whole. The USDA has shed light on the reasons for this national rural to metro trend and migration plays a larger role than one may suspect.
The USDA identifies every county according to a Rural to Urban Continuum (RUC). In every category of rural county, outmigration was a larger reason for population decline than natural change—the number of births to deaths. In fact, nationally even small urban counties which had a natural population increase showed a decrease due to migration to larger urban centers. See the list for Minnesota counties.
Where Minnesota diverges from the national trend is in the Central Lakes Area which have grown in population. This data from 2010-2014 is a continuation of a fifty year trend in Minnesota as can be seen in the map from the Center for Rural Policy and Development. View change in population by county population from 1960-2013.
This is the first in a series of articles MREA is publishing on Minnesota demographic trends.