Minnesota's phenomenal population increases in the 1990s could have a profound impact on the state's political landscape in the next decade. Growth was especially rapid in suburban districts but was much slower in many rural districts.
A new Minnesota Planning report, Ahead at Halftime: Minnesota at Mid-Decade, offers a first look at how population changes have affected the size of Minnesota's legislative districts. The study also reveals a growth rate for jobs that is twice that of the population.
"Minnesotans are enjoying wide economic success," said Governor Arne H. Carlson. "We have a solid economy with one of the lowest unemployment rates in America."
After redistricting in 1992, the number of people in each legislative district was roughly equal. Just three years later in 1995, only 40 of the 134 house districts and 23 of the 67 senate districts were within 3 percent of the average district size.
Minnesota's largest district in 1995 (District 57A including Woodbury, Oakdale and Maplewood) has almost 11,500 more people than the smallest district (District 13B in west central Minnesota) in 1995. The central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul lost population in the 1990s, and, if current trends continue, will lose at least one district following the 2000 census. The Iron Range would lose about one-half district. Suburban districts in the seven-county Twin Cities area make up more than a third of Minnesota's population and would gain more than 2.5 districts.
"If current trends continue, legislative districts after the 2000 census will look very different in Minnesota," said Linda Kohl, director of Minnesota Planning. "This report is a first glance at what might happen in the next decade."
Population growth has averaged more than 1 percent annually since 1990, and jobs have increased even more rapidly -- 8 percent between 1990 and 1994. Population growth has not been uniform across the state, but trends were mostly positive. Fewer counties lost population in the 1990s than in the 1980s, and losses were smaller. Migration into Minnesota -- more people moving in than moving out -- added 72,100 people. The report uses population estimates prepared annually by Minnesota Planning's Office of the State Demographer and the Metropolitan Council.
Available on Minnesota Planning's World Wide Web site, Ahead at Halftime provides a wealth of data on Minnesota's demographics and economy. In addition to population estimates of legislative districts and counties, the report contains information about natural increase, migration, employment, per capita income and unemployment rates.