Pandemic and decline in migration result in changes to forecasted regional growth

Date: Monday, April 17, 2023

A lot can change in a few years, and that’s especially true when a pandemic disrupts the global, national, and local economies.

The Metropolitan Council, charged with regularly updating the region’s forecast for population and employment, now projects slower growth in the number of people and jobs than previous updates.

The forecasted population for the seven-county metro region in 2040 is 3.56 million. For 2050, the forecasted population in the region is 3.82 million.

”Regional forecasting begins with the decennial Census and projects forward,” said Community Development Director Lisa Barajas. “Our modeling factors in demographics, national trends, and other considerations.

“The slower growth we project for the region is due, in no small part, to the pandemic and how our regional economy is situated within the national economy,” said Barajas.

Regional forecast update

2022 forecast 2030 forecast 2040 forecast 2050 forecast
Nonfarm employment (BLS)  1,541,000  1,581,000  1,732,000  1,802,000  1,895,000  2,074,000 
Population  2,850,000  3,163,000  3,190,000  3,364,000  3,555,000  3,820,000 
Total population growth (10 years)  207,000  313,000    201,000  191,000 265,000
  • Natural growth: births less deaths (10 years) 
233,000 192,000   138,000 122,000 84,000
  • Net domestic migration
-111,000 30,000   -30,000 -38,000 70,000
  • International immigration 
85,000 91,000   93,000 107,000 111,000
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (percent of regional population) 24%  29%  30%  34%  39%  45% 

What has changed since our previous forecasts?

Researchers at the Met Council cite several contributing factors to slower growth than previously forecasted and recent trends. Among them:

  • Higher mortality rates in the current decade
  • Falling birth rates that will have long-lasting effects on population growth
  • Reduced international immigration to the U.S.
  • The economic and employment disruption during and since 2020
  • National workforce challenges

Researcher Todd Graham explains that historically, the region’s economic opportunity and low unemployment have attracted people to the region.

“Until 2019, the Twin Cities metro enjoyed a balance between people leaving for other states and new arrivals from other states,” Graham said. “In the current and next decade, we expect to see fewer new arrivals. That’s because many competing metro areas across the nation now also have low unemployment and ample job opportunities. Our advantage has lessened.

“Climate change could drive dislocations from coastal, southern, and southwestern states, but Minnesota may receive only a small share of that migration,” Graham said.

A steady trend is the growing share of the population that will be Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Our long-term prosperity and quality of life will depend on the inclusion of the BIPOC population in the region’s economy and its civic and cultural life.

The role of forecasting in planning

Long-range forecasts provide a foundation for coordinated local and regional planning in the seven-county metro area. With regional forecasts in place, the Council will develop forecasts for when, where, and how much population and job growth will occur in the cities and towns that make up the Twin Cities region.

Local forecasts will be prepared over the next 18 months. The forecasts help the region and municipalities plan for needed transportation and wastewater infrastructure, housing, including affordable housing, land use, and services.  
Barajas says coordinated planning helps to ensure that infrastructure and services are aligned with growth, promoting efficiency, savings, and coordination.

Posted In: Communities

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