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Minnesota 2010: Anotherhalf-million likely by 2030

By Ashley H. Grant

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's population is projected to swell from 5 million today to almost 51⁄2; million by 2010 and to more than 6 million by 2030.

While most of the growth is expected to be in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud and Rochester areas, many rural areas can also anticipate growth, state officials said in releasing the projections Wednesday.

"If you've got trees or lakes, you're going to be growing also," said Dean Barkley, director of the Minnesota Planning agency.

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Twenty-one counties, mostly in western Minnesota, are expected to lose population, while the fastest growth this decade is expected in Scott, Sherburne and Carver counties.

"Whether you welcome it or are taken aback by it …; you can't put the genie back in the bottle now," said Lisa Kohner, public affairs coordinator for Scott County.

The population growth will increase the demand for improved transportation, housing and health care, which Barkley called "the 800-pound gorilla" due to the glut of baby boomers expected to enter their senior years during that time.

The number of Minnesotans ages 50 to 64 is expected to grow by more than 300,000 between 2000 and 2010. The dramatic growth in the older population will be most visible in Twin Cities suburbs, according to the report.

More modest growth is expected for younger age groups. The number of children under 15 is projected to grow about 10,000, for instance, while the number of 15- to 24-year olds is expected to rise by about 62,000.

Scott County, in the southern metro, is forecast to double its population, to 181,000, by 2030. Kohner said two things are fueling that growth: accessibility and desirability.

"People can get here now, we're closer to the Twin Cities than we ever have been," Kohner said.

Between now and 2010, the state's population will grow by about 66,000 per year. By the year 2030, the population is expected to have grown 27 percent, to 6.27 million.

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The new figures are higher than previous projections, mainly because officials expect a continued trend of more people coming than going, said state demographer Tom Gillaspy.

"During the 1990s we had about a quarter of a million more people move in than move out," he said. "When you add in these new people and their kids and grandkids, you end up with quite a few more people."

Births are projected to rise steadily through 2015, and then level off at their highest level since the 1960s, with almost 76,000 births anticipated that year. By comparison, births in the 1990s were in the 63,000 to 68,000 range each year.

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