Minnesota's population growth has stalled for the second year in a row, suggesting the pandemic has left lingering effects and the number of people leaving the state continues to outpace new arrivals.
The number of people living in Minnesota grew by less than 1% — about 5,700 people — between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 population estimates released Thursday.
While the numbers are an improvement over the previous year when the state recorded a net gain of about 1,600 people, they are still far short of Minnesota's typical annual growth of about 35,000 people, said Susan Brower, Minnesota's state demographer.
"To see two years of this level of growth is surprising," Brower said. Last year's low growth levels could potentially be attributed to higher death rates, slowed immigration and delayed pregnancies during the pandemic, she said. But seeing the situation continue for a second year is "concerning."
Laura Bordelon, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's senior vice president of advocacy, said the state has been losing population to other states for the past 10 to 12 years and the trend "appears to be accelerating."
"Without population and labor force growth, growing our state's economy is immensely challenging, so it is critical we attract and retain workers both nationally and internationally," Bordelon wrote in a statement Thursday.
The information released Thursday did not include city- or county-level data, but showed state and national estimates.
Nationally, the population rose 0.4%, suggesting a slight rebound compared with the .01% growth rate during the worst of the pandemic from 2020 to 2021, the lowest since the nation's founding.
Growth was largely driven by international migration, with every state gaining residents from abroad. Net international migration was nearly three times larger than in the previous year. This was also the first year since 2007 with a year-over-year increase in total births.
New York and California both had large population losses mostly due to people moving to other states.
The South gained 1.3 million residents, the largest of any region, driven by population gains in Texas and Florida that approached a half-million residents each.
Wisconsin gained about 12,000 residents, mostly due to a positive inflow from other states and abroad. But the state had more deaths than births for the second straight year.
International migration helped buoy Minnesota, bringing in about 14,000 more people than the number who left for other countries. But net domestic migration was worse than in previous years: About 19,000 more people left Minnesota than moved into the state, up from about 16,000 the year before.
Bordelon said it's not just the snowbirds who are leaving the state.
"The key working age group of 20-29-year-olds is the biggest group that relocates," she said in the statement, adding that retaining people and attracting newcomers can often come down to economics. "We need to ensure it's affordable from a tax and cost of living perspective," she wrote.
The state's meager population growth can be almost entirely attributed to the number of births outpacing deaths by about 11,600.
"Births are keeping us afloat, but not as much as they used to be," Brower said, adding that birth rates have long been trending downward. Because birth rates are often less variable and less impacted by policy than domestic and international migration, demographers tend to focus on the latter.
"There are already a lot of conversations going on around migration and around workforce shortages," Brower said. "Employers are looking to where the workers are. … Migration is the piece that could more quickly fill the need."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.