Counties in the southwestern Twin Cities suburbs are still growing at a faster rate than others in Minnesota, according to the latest U.S. Census population estimates.
Scott and Carver are the smallest counties in the seven-county metro area, but they led the state in growth as a share of their population over the past six years. And Carver County’s population exceeded 100,000 for the first time in 2016 — more than doubling its size since 1990.
“It’s kind of running with that pack of large counties that are … the engine of population growth in our state,” said Andi Egbert, assistant director of the Minnesota State Demographic Center, referring to Carver.
But the urban core still draws the most new people.
Based on total population, Hennepin County is by far the state’s largest with more than 1.2 million people — adding 12,000 residents last year. Ramsey County, the second largest county, added 4,500 new residents.
By contrast, Scott added 2,000 people in 2016 and Carver added 1,650. The numbers reflect a mix of births, deaths and people moving into the area.
Carver County Administrator Dave Hemze said there’s a more visible demand for transportation as the county population has grown to top 100,000 people.
“I think it is a significant milestone and just sort of a mark that tells us that we’re continuing to grow up as an urban community,” Hemze said. “Although we still have sort of that rural flavor, which separates us from the other [counties].”
Another is giving them a run for their money. Sherburne County, northwest of the Twin Cities, posted the highest single-year growth rate last year.
While the metro area is growing, the experience is mixed elsewhere in the state. Thirty-six of the state’s counties lost population this year, led by St. Louis County, compared with 42 to the year before.
“The losses are modest and then the growth is really strong in those places that are big to begin with,” Egbert said.
The latest census update did not outline city-level changes.
The Met Council reported last year that Minneapolis and St. Paul added the most new residents between 2010 and 2015, accounting for about 29 percent of all Twin Cities growth during that time. Chanhassen, Chaska, Savage and Shakopee added the most residents in Carver and Scott counties over the same period.
The new census data also tracked the changing population of metropolitan areas across the country.
The population of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, which spans 16 counties according to federal definitions, has grown about 6 percent since 2010, the data show. That’s behind cities like Denver, Seattle and Portland.
The Twin Cities remains the 16th largest metro area in the country, just behind Seattle and ahead of San Diego.