Messages from the Council Chair

New population estimates are a reminder to complete the 2020 Census

May 2020

Charlie ZelleNew data published by the Met Council this week shows that our region continues to grow larger and more diverse. The preliminary community-level population estimates show steady population growth across the seven-county metro area, confirming that the metro area continued to attract new residents in 2019.

Carver and Scott counties saw the most rapid growth, with 17.7% and 14.3% growth, respectively, during the years 2010-2019. But the growth is evident in all parts of the region: the overall growth rate in the metro area was 10.6%. The urban core cities continued to redevelop, adding new housing and new residents. Minneapolis has added more than 50,000 people since 2010. Saint Paul has added 30,000 to surpass the capital city’s historic population peak in 1960. Several older suburbs have also grown substantially since 2010.

Along with seeing more people in our region, we are seeing more diversity. According to Census Bureau estimates, 27% of our region’s residents are people of color, and our forecasts that this share will rise to 40% by 2040. Understanding the demographics is essential as the Met Council sets a regional vision and as cities and counties plan for development, housing, parks, and programming. We all need to make sure that everyone can thrive in the coming decades.

Much of our research and analysis builds on Census data. Our community-level population estimates rely heavily on household size and occupancy estimates from the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey, and on housing unit counts from the decennial Census. Many of our other research efforts also depend on the Census as the gold standard of data collection. Simply put, it is essential to us and to every community to have complete and accurate information to plan for the future.

We can all contribute to this important effort. Right now, the 2020 Census is still underway. The Census Bureau will reopen its local offices after Memorial Day and recall Census-takers to work. Their first task will be checking in with institutional housing and homeless shelters to ensure that we count everyone.

Minnesota is leading the nation in response to the 2020 Census, with more than 70% of addresses having returned their Census forms. Our counties have the nation’s third, fourth, fifth, and sixth highest response rates among large counties. This is great news, but we cannot let our response to the Census lapse as we respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We need to keep focused on the big picture, and plan for the long term to maintain our region’s quality of life.

If you haven’t filled out your census form, go online and fill it out today. It takes just a few minutes to help us plan for the next few decades.