Over the last several years, Minnesota has observed a stagnancy and slowdown in its population, a product of serious economic and social shifts. In 2020, for example, the state held onto its eighth congregational seat by just 89 people. If its counties lose any more, it will affect the state politically. Yet, while many parts of Minnesota are shrinking or flat, some of its fastest-growing counties keep the state afloat.
Check out our list to learn about Minnesota’s top ten fastest-growing counties and the reasons behind their allure.
How to Measure Population of Minnesota’s Fastest-Growing Counties
When calculating population growth in Minnesota counties, we use a standard formula to compare two population measures and their change over a given number of years. The following represents this equation:
Percentage increase = ((Final Value – Initial Value) / Initial Value) x 100
To use one of Minnesota’s largest cities, Minneapolis, as an example, the city’s population was 429,954 in 2020, up from 382,578 in 2010. After doing the math, we can calculate that Minneapolis grew by 12.38%. To calculate this change:
12.38% = ((429,954 – 382,578) / 382,578) x 100
However, a blanket percentage measurement doesn’t account for peaks and declines in the years within that time window. Population changes may have varied annually but presented little change using the above math. As such, this report includes annual and period-based growth amounts for each county to give a clearer picture.
The data in this article is sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, based on measurements of population counts in 2010-2020 and estimates in 2020-2022. While the decennial census data contains the most accurate information, numbers outside this report (which occur once every ten years) are calculations.
Additionally, the population growth in these counties isn’t necessarily representative of a given area’s size and total population density.
1. Carver County
Nestled outside St. Paul, MN, Carver County has enjoyed an influx of residents over the last several years. Its population grew by 17.5% between the previous two decennial US. Census reports and was up another 2.9% between 2020 and 2022.
- 2010 Population: 91,332
- 2020 Population: 107,286
- 2022 Population: 110,034
- Population Change from 2010: +18,702
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 1.71%
- Total Growth Percentage: 20.48%
- 11th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Chaska (28,262)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): New Germany (457)
- Fun Fact: The Woodland Culture lived in the present-day Carver County area as far back as 1200 B.C.E.
2. Wright County
Minnesota’s Wright County experienced an impressive growth rate in the last twelve years, per census data. Its resident count as of 2020 numbered 141,759, up from 125,093 who lived there in 2010, and grew another 4.7% in the last two years.
- 2010 Population: 125,093
- 2020 Population: 141,759
- 2022 Population: 148,003
- Population Change from 2010: +22,910
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 1.53%
- Total Growth Percentage: 18.31%
- 10th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Otsego (22,424)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): South Haven (184)
- Fun Fact: About 75% of the land within Wright County, MN, is designated for agricultural use.
3. Washington County
Washington County is not only one of the most densely populated areas in Minneapolis but also one of the state’s fastest-growing counties. Its resident count rose by 12.2% in the 2010-2020 period and saw another jump of 3.1% as of 2022.
- 2010 Population: 238,933
- 2020 Population: 269,191
- 2022 Population: 275,912
- Population Change from 2010: +36,979
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 1.29%
- Total Growth Percentage: 15.48%
- 5th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Woodbury (78,561)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): Lakeland Shores (334)
- Fun Fact: Named for George Washington, Washington County was one of the first eight counties created alongside the formation of Minnesota.
4. Sherburne County
The people of Sherburne County gained a healthy amount of new neighbors in the last several years as people flocked to the area’s growing economic opportunities and natural draws. As one of the fastest-growing counties in Minnesota, its population grew by 9.8% in the 2010-2020 period. The area was up another 3.7% between 2020 and 2022 estimates.
- 2010 Population: 88,800
- 2020 Population: 97,479
- 2022 Population: 100,824
- Population Change from 2010: +12,024
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 1.13%
- Total Growth Percentage: 13.54%
- 12th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Elk River (26,750)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): Clear Lake (663)
- Fun Fact: The City of Elk River was declared an “Energy City” in 1997, serving as a focal point for the demonstration of efficient and renewable energy systems and products.
5. Isanti County
The population of Isanti County didn’t experience a mass of people arriving, but relative to its existing population, the growth rate was noticeable. In 2020, its population count jumped by an impressive 9.3%, with another 3.9% of growth experienced as of 2022.
- 2010 Population: 37,856
- 2020 Population: 41,383
- 2022 Population: 42,727
- Population Change from 2010: +4871
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 1.07%
- Total Growth Percentage: 12.87%
- 24th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Cambridge (10,482)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): Braham (1776)
- Fun Fact: The name “Isanti” comes from two words in the Dakota language: “isan,” meaning “knife,” and “ati,” which translates to “camp.” The word refers to the Santee Dakota nation.
6. Hubbard County
Hubbard County is a relatively tiny county compared to Minnesota’s metropolitan hubs, but the region has retained impressive population gains in the last several years. In 2020, its resident count was up 4.7%, and the county experienced a 2.9% jump as of 2022.
- 2010 Population: 20,427
- 2020 Population: 21,380
- 2022 Population: 21,960
- Population Change from 2010: +1533
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 0.63%
- Total Growth Percentage: 7.51%
- 44th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Park Rapids (4269)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): Laporte (141)
- Fun Fact: Hubbard County was founded in 1883 and named for Lucius Hubbard, former governor of Minnesota.
7. Cass County
Cass County has a relatively minor overall population compared to other regions on this list, but the area still experienced a noticeable uptake in the population count over the last 12 years. It rose approximately 5.1% from 2010-2020, per the U.S. Census, and jumped another 4% in the following two years.
- 2010 Population: 28,654
- 2020 Population: 30,125
- 2022 Population: 31,274
- Population Change from 2010: +2620
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 0.43%
- Total Growth Percentage: 5.13%
- 34th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Lake Shore (1109)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): Boy River (29)
- Fun Fact: Cass County was named for Lewis Cass, a former U.S. Senator and political figure in the 19th century.
Mille Lacs County
Home to the sprawling Mille Lacs Lake, Mille Lacs County is a tiny area that nevertheless experienced healthy growth population-wise in the last twelve years. Between 2010-2020, the region saw net 1.3% more people arrive in the area, while the previous two years estimated another 3.1% in population growth.
- 2010 Population: 26,073
- 2020 Population: 26,462
- 2022 Population: 27,280
- Population Change from 2010: +1207
- Average Annual Growth Percentage: 0.39%
- Total Growth Percentage: 4.63%
- 39th Largest County by Population in Minnesota
- Largest City: Milaca (3048)
- Smallest City (Incorporated): Bock (80)
- Fun Fact: Mille Lacs County boasts some of the best walleye catch rates in Minnesota, with plenty of fishing opportunities for catchers.
Summary of Fastest-Growing Counties in Minnesota
|Rank||County||Annual % Growth 2010-2022|
|8||Mille Lacs County||0.39%|
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