The 7 Fast-Growing Counties in Minnesota Are Exploding in Growth

Written by Shanti Ryle
Updated: October 3, 2023
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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.

7 Fast-growing Counties in Minnesota
These counties in Minnesota continue to grow as others stagnate.

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

Stone Arch Bridge, Minnesote- states with the best bridges in America

The Stone Arch Bridge leading towards downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, which had


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

St. Paul

Skyline of St, Paul in Minnesota, USA, of which Carver County is a suburb.

©gangliu10/iStock via Getty Images

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

Lake Maria In Autumn


beautiful landmark

of Lake Maria stands in Wright County, MN.

©John_Brueske/iStock via Getty Images

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

View of Stillwater Minnesota, of an old mill, framed by autumn leaves

Stillwater, MN, lies in Washington County and offers beautiful, rustic landmarks such as this old mill.

©Melissa Kopka/iStock via Getty Images

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

Colorful zinnias growing at Munsinger Clemens Botanical Gardens in St. Cloud, Minnesota

The Munsinger Gardens feature hundreds of flower species located in Sherburne County.

©Sara Koivisto/iStock via Getty Images

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

Cascade River Falls

Visitors to Isanti County can stop by the Cascade River Falls for a beautiful view.

©John_Brueske/iStock via Getty Images

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

Autumn Reflections On Lake Josephine - Itasca State Park

Peak autumn foliage colors reflected on scenic Lake Josephine in Itasca State Park, in Hubbard County in Northcentral, Minnesota.

©Jeff439/iStock via Getty Images

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

Lewis Cass

Lewis Cass (1782-1866) is the namesake for Minnesota’s Cass County.

©Georgios Kollidas/iStock via Getty Images

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

Mille Lacs Lake southwest side below dramatic clouds in north central Minnesota on a sunny summer afternoon

The namesake

Mille Lacs Lake

is a stunning feature of Mille Lacs County, MN.

©Dan Thornberg/

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

RankCountyAnnual % Growth 2010-2022
1Carver County1.71%
2Wright County1.53%
3Washington County1.29%
4Sherburne County1.13%
5Isanti County1.07%
6Hubbard County0.63%
7Cass County0.43%
8Mille Lacs County0.39%

See Assignment Notes field for more details.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © gangliu10/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Shanti Ryle is a content marketer with nearly a decade's experience writing about science, real estate, business, and culture. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Global Finance and Banking, Weedmaps News/, and other publications. Her favorite animal (by far) is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi!

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