Latest Census estimates find suburban population growth trailing Hennepin, Ramsey counties

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MINNEAPOLIS — Population growth in the once-booming Twin Cities suburban counties is slowing down, according to U.S. Census estimates released Thursday.

Growth in the five suburban counties collectively trails Hennepin and Ramsey counties so far this decade, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1OBtvkZ ) reported. Since the 1940s, those five counties have always gown at least twice as fast as the two big urban counties — home to Minneapolis and St. Paul — that they border.

But now, Ramsey County, where St. Paul is located, is growing as quickly as suburban neighbor Washington County. For half a century, Ramsey was the slowest-growing of the metro counties. In the 1990s, Washington grew eight times faster.

Anoka and Dakota counties have shown the weakest growth so far in the seven-county metro region.

Consulting demographer Tom Gillaspy said the numbers suggest that the softening of suburban growth, which began around 2005, is "not a short-run thing."

"In 2010, people were saying, 'When we're fully recovered from the recession, we'll go right back to this house-buying thing,'" Gillaspy said. "And some of us were saying, 'We're not so sure.' We're not seeing it go back to the way it was."

According to the Census estimates, for the decade so far — from 2010 to 2014 — longtime growth leader Scott County is running slightly ahead of neighboring Carver County, 7.5 percent to 6.9 percent.

But Scott's growth is showing signs of slackening year by year, while Carver is trending upward. In the year from 2013 to 2014, Carver tops metro counties.

Overall, the latest estimates "continue a trend that we've been tracking," said Craig Helmstetter, senior research manager for the Wilder Foundation.

"The pendulum seems to be swinging from the explosive population growth that we saw in the suburbs during the '50s and '60s toward more moderate growth since the turn of the century," Helmstetter said." We have seen a bit of a mirror image in the central cities," where growth is accelerating.

Statewide, 46 Minnesota counties have seen population losses so far this decade, although some were minor. Drops of 3 percent or more occurred in 17 of the 87 counties.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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