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Boreal Community Media

Northeast Minnesota has older, stable population

Sep 08, 2017 08:01AM ● By Editor
By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - September 7, 2017

Over the last 16 years Northeast Minnesota has a stable but aging population, which is worrisome according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Since 2000 the seven counties that make up Northeast Minnesota have gained 3,009 people, an increase of .9 percent.

Meanwhile the state has gained 600,473 residents over that same time period.

Cook County grew a little bit in 16 years, from 5,168 to 5,286, a growth rate of 2.36 percent. This was up from last year’s projection of only 30 new people added to Cook County from 2000 to 2015.

In the past year Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties lost population, with 721 people.

As far as aging, since 2000 the 55 and older crowd grew by 30,133, a 35.2 percent jump. Today there are 115,838 people aged over 55 in the Northeast Region, which represents 35.7 percent of the total population, compared to 28.6 percent for the rest of the state.

Cause for concern, notes the report, is the labor shortage that has decreased since 2009 when the labor force peaked at 170,000 workers. Today there are 162,219 available workers, a 4.4 percent reduction in the labor force. Meanwhile the state of Minnesota has increased its workforce by nearly 80,000 workers, a 2.6 percent growth since 2009.

Projections show that Northeast Minnesota will lose about 9,000 workers by 2030, 5.7 decrease from the projected labor force of 2020.

According to DEED, without an increase in population in the region and/ or increasing labor force participation across all age groups, the shrinking labor force will remain a challenge for businesses.

The continuing decrease of the labor force, caused by an aging and not increasing population, will likely continue to cause tight labor market conditions, forcing employers to respond to changing labor force availability. 

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