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Growth has been steady since 2000

By Mike Klein

mklein@postbulletin.com

Olmsted County was the seventh-fastest growing county in the state from July 2006 to July 2007, growing by 2,214 people, or 1.6 percent, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census released today.

Olmsted’s growth has been remarkably steady since 2000. It has added roughly 2,000 people each year, give or take a few hundred, providing growth of between 1 percent and 2 percent.

That growth is driven by people migrating to Rochester for jobs, as Mayo Clinic and other health care activities have created a solid job market here, said state demographer Tom Gillaspy.

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"Health care is less affected by the cyclical changes than most other industries, and that adds some economic stability to the area," Gillaspy said.

In contrast, growth in the once-booming outer Twin Cities suburbs slowed drastically, the report showed. Scott County was once one of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing counties. But the new report says Scott County slipped to 166th. Growth in Chisago County was once in the top 100 but now ranks 683rd. Minnesota no longer has any counties in the country’s top 100 in terms of growth.

Gillaspy said even though the "torrid ’90s" are over, growth in Twin Cities suburban counties is returning to 1970s levels — which he says were "not particularly bad."

In southeast Minnesota, growth was less than 1 percent in Goodhue, Dodge, Fillmore and Winona counties. And the population actually dropped slightly in Mower, Wabasha and Houston counties.

Dodge County had been one of the fastest-growing counties, with its population up 10.3 percent since 2000. However, its growth slowed to 0.43 percent, or 84 people, in the most recent count.

Nationwide, hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and neighboring St. Bernard Parish topped the U.S. Census Bureau list of fastest-growing counties.

The bureau said the South had 70 of the nation’s 100 fastest-growing counties from July 2006 to July 2007; 22 were in the West and eight in the Midwest.

Arizona’s Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, added the most people in that period — 102,000, bringing its population to nearly 3.9 million. Los Angeles County remained the nation’s most populous with 9.9 million people, though its population dropped about 2,000 over the year.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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