To meet the job demands of Destination Medical Center, planners have calculated that Rochester needs to roughly double its net in-migration, from roughly 1,000 people a year to about 2,000, according to Charlie Reiter, transportation planner for Olmsted County.
"We hope so. I don't know how else we're going to fill the jobs, to be honest," Reiter said "It's a problem. That's a concern we've identified in trying to forecast future population."
One encouraging sign for this goal came in the most recent U.S. Census numbers, for 2013, when net domestic in-migration was positive 199, after being in negative territory in the previous several years.
Net in-migration is the number of people moving here minus those moving away, so when it's negative it means more people moved away than moved here. Net domestic in-migration — meaning within the United States — was negative 523 in 2012 and negative 297 in 2011, the census said.
Overall net in-migration is positive only because of a strong influx of people moving here from foreign counties -- 512 in 2013, the census shows.
The DMC initiative envisions creating 35,000 jobs in the next 20 years as it makes the city more of a destination.
According to U.S. Census statistics, the most source cities for people moving to Rochester are Minneapolis and Chicago.
But when they move away, they tend to move to sunny Phoenix — and Minneapolis.
"There's an awful lot of tonnage going toward the Arizona-California area, when you're talking about leaving the state of Minnesota," said Larry Piepho, owner of Piepho Moving & Storage.
Many of those people moving west are retirees, while others are Mayo Clinic employees headed to the Mayo Clinic operations in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The U.S. Census County-to-County Migration Flows Tables use data collected by the American Community Survey between 2008 and 2012
Of the 142,453 residents of Olmsted County, 7,753 residents, or 5.4 percent, lived in a different county the previous year. Of those, 3,586 lived in Minnesota elsewhere, and 4,167 lived in another state.
A little more than 5 percent of the U.S. population, or 16.6 million people, lived in a different county one year earlier.
"These statistics show the work, occupation and employment status of movers at the time they were surveyed," said Kin Koerber, a demographer with the Census Bureau's Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch. "With the new update, we can see movements of occupation groups from one part of the country to another."
Migration is driven by job opportunities, so if DMC provides more jobs hopefully more people move here to take them, Reiter said. But it's also about improving the quality of life in the city, with new restaurants and arts venues and so on, so that also may draw people.
Piepho said that as the economy picks up, more people do move. "The opportunity presents itself, when new jobs and new businesses come to town," Piepho said.