When it comes to demographics, at least we aren't Cheeseheads

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2014 - 7:07 PM

Minnesotans miffed about being toppled from our longtime perch as the Upper Midwest’s population growth leader can console themselves with this:

At least we’re not Cheese­heads.

Wisconsin’s growth rate is slackening amid alarm about the state’s ability to find workers for jobs. A research group speaks of an “impending storm,” with only 21 of 72 counties expected to see increases in working-age adults through 2040.

In percentage growth terms, both Dakotas used to trail Minnesota, but both now rank among the nation’s top six states in rate of growth.

Minnesota ranks only 22nd, but Wisconsin, 37th place, trails even Iowa, long alarmed about its own growth prospects.

New projections are leading to scary predictions, including a warning from a state economist that as baby boomers retire, firms could struggle to find workers to “remain in operation, much less to expand.”

Minnesota Demographer Susan Brower also warns audiences about the impact of aging here, with workforce growth sagging year by year.

But Wisconsin, the bigger state, added less than half as many residents as Minnesota did from 2012 to 2013. Its plight is a reminder of how much chillier things could be without Minnesota’s track record as a magnet for immigrants.

Some comparisons:

• Eight Wisconsin counties are forecast to lose at least 5 percent by 2040; in Minnesota, it’s two (Aitkin and Cook).

• Wisconsin’s predicted leader, St. Croix, expected to be up 41 percent by 2040, owes that to the Twin Cities. Wisconsin has four other counties predicted to grow at least 25 percent; Minnesota has 12.

• Overall by 2040, Minnesota expects to grow by about 872,000, or 16 percent, while Wisconsin forecasts virtually no job growth and is at risk of losing its place as the Upper Midwest’s biggest state.

For a nifty look at state-by-state growth trends in recent years, see www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/043.

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