Minnesota's population saw slight gains in 2023, driven by more typical migration patterns and fewer deaths compared to the prior two flat, pandemic-affected years.

The number of people living in Minnesota increased by 0.4% or 23,615 people between July 2022 and July 2023, according to a U.S. census report released Tuesday.

The state continues to see low birth rates and elevated deaths as its population ages, and that matches the general trends seen across the country, said Susan Brower, Minnesota's state demographer. But domestic migration and immigration patterns seem to be stabilizing, she said.

"What we're seeing generally, with this release, is the stabilization of migration patterns. When we received the data last year and saw massive outflows of people domestically, that was concerning," Brower said.

The domestic migration outflow of the two years prior alarmed state leaders who are working to bring more workers to Minnesota. In 2021, Minnesota lost nearly 11,000 people and in 2022 the state lost 22,000.

"Now to have lost about 4,700, that's a number that we're very used to historically and that feels like a much more comfortable pace of loss," Brower said.

The state continues to attract international talent that is key in making up for some of the domestic out-migration, said Sean O'Neil, director of Economic Development and Research at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

International migration was strong in the last decade but there was quite a drop during the Trump administration when obtaining visas became more difficult and there were more caps on refugee immigration, Brower said. This year's net gain of 14,600 international immigrants is on par with mid-decade during the 2010s, she said.

People often assume that the cold Upper Midwest climate makes domestic outmigration inevitable, O'Neil said. But some other states in the region have been seeing net domestic gains, he pointed out. Over the last decade, gains in South Dakota, for example, could be attributed to their strong economy and lower taxes, he said. In the 1990s, Minnesota attracted more people from other states than it lost for more than a decade, he said.

"We have less domestic out migration than in past years, but we still ranked 36 among all states," O'Neil said. "There still seems to be a lot of room for improvement for Minnesota to do better to attract and retain people here in the state."

More states experienced population growth in 2023 than in any year since the start of the pandemic — though the national population growth is still historically low, according to the report. The nation gained 1.6 million people, or 0.5%, bringing the total to 334,914,895. Minnesota is one of 42 states that saw gains this year.

Most of the nation's growth can be attributed to the South, which added 1.4 million residents.

The Midwest region also saw a moderate population gain following two consecutive years of decline, driven by growth in Indiana and Ohio in addition to Minnesota.

Each of Minnesota's neighboring states grew, also. While percentage growth was highest in the Dakotas, both states have a population below 1 million people. The census data show population growth in each state as:

  • Iowa: +0.2% (7,311)
  • North Dakota: +0.6% (5,014)
  • South Dakota: +1% (9,449)
  • Wisconsin: +0.3% (20,412)

Director of Graphics and Data Visuals C.J. Sinner contributed to this report.