Support the Timberjay by making a donation.
REGIONAL- The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have helped reverse a decades-long trend of declining population in rural parts of Minnesota. That change is noted in the Center for Rural Policy and …
REGIONAL- The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have helped reverse a decades-long trend of declining population in rural parts of Minnesota. That change is noted in the Center for Rural Policy and Development’s annual “State of Rural Minnesota Report 2022,” which outlines demographic and economic trends.
The biggest loser, according to the report, was the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, with a net loss of 19,764 people from 2020 to 2021. That ended more than a decade of year-to-year growth averaging around 10,000 new residents per year.
Counties like St. Louis County, classified in the urban/town/rural category for statistical analysis for this report reaped the largest benefit from this outmigration, adding 5,574 people. St. Louis County itself experienced a net gain of 811 residents from 2020 to 2021. The Arrowhead region as a whole saw a net gain of 1,252 people.
“This sudden shift in migration can be due to a lot of things—the pandemic, housing prices, perceptions about crime, as well as college students choosing to take courses online instead of migrating to urban colleges,” said CRPD researcher Kelly Asche. “Time will tell if these trends hold or if they will go back to pre-pandemic patterns. Such a shift would be a significant deviation from the norm.”
Counties classified as wholly rural also picked up population, gaining 518 people due to migration. Town/rural counties lost an average of 967 people per year due to migration between 2010 and 2019 but gained 2,622 people from 2020 to 2021. Any trends noted for Greater Minnesota’s rural areas can be inferred to reflect the experience in St. Louis County, outside of Duluth, but are not broken out in the data.
The report notes that these shifts are sudden and modest, and that population across much of Greater Minnesota is still expected to decline over the next 20-30 years.
Average earnings in St. Louis County were the best in the Arrowhead region at $61,332, approximately $6,000 higher than in Koochiching and Carlton counties and $8,000 higher than Itasca and Lake counties. Household incomes in rural parts of Minnesota continued to run below the statewide average of $70,886.
That wage differential is offset by the difference in the cost of living. For a two-parent family with one wage earner and two children, the cost of living in St. Louis County was calculated to be $53,003, about $15,000 lower than for the same family living in the Twin Cities metro.
Nearly 35 percent of the jobs in St. Louis County are in education and health services, a trend reflected throughout greater Minnesota, and those jobs, on average, pay about 10 percent above what is needed to cover the cost of living for a two-parent family with one wage earner and two children. Government jobs represent 13.6 percent of the total, about 16,000 jobs. Almost 12,000 people are considered to be self-employed, 9.6 percent of the county’s total employment.
Leisure and hospitality jobs show the greatest discrepancy between average pay and cost of living. The report indicates that the average leisure and hospitality job in St. Louis County pays $383 per week, only 37.6 percent of what is needed to cover the cost of living, estimated to be $1,019 for the above-described household.
Reflective of the challenge employers in the northeast have faced in filling job vacancies, the report notes that job vacancies in Greater Minnesota are at their highest levels at any point since 2005. This increase is largely due to retirements in the workforce as well as continued economic growth. Calculated by comparing the average quarterly job vacancies as a percentage of total jobs, the pressure on the economy in the northeast is 9.4 percent for 2021, significantly higher than the 5.8 percent mark in 2018, previously the highest mark since 2005. Not surprisingly, employers have been offering increased wages for vacant positions, according to the data.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here