For the first time since 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that the population of Saint Paul is growing. Other cities experiencing the trend include Minneapolis and several of their first-ring Twin Cities suburbs. Simultaneously, the populations of outter-laying newer suburbs are tapering off. Based on building permit trends, St. Paul officials have believed the city was experiencing growth, but this is the first time the bureau has concurred.
Throughout this decade, the Census Bureau has recorded declines in population within St. Paul, Minneapolis, and some older suburbs like Bloomington, Edina, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park. Now they and a few others have reversed course, with inhabitants once again on the rise.
Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution in Washington says "A lot of older cities in the Midwest and Northeast are seeing greater gains or reduced declines. St. Paul actually flips, from 'down' to 'up.' And it may not just be a blip. Four-dollar gas may go a long ways toward slowing movement to the suburbs."
This apparent turn in the tide for Saint Paul may be related to a shift in methodology that works better at tracking the movement of college students into, out of, and around the city. The inner-ring suburbs, though, are probably experiencing an increase due to trends in real estate that are calling more high-density development in the suburbs. The light-rail also seems to be accelerating this trend in cities such as Bloomington. Residents are beginning to see the advantages of living near this convenience.
Demographers have been telling the housing industry for years that a profound market shift was coming. Over two years ago in the April 2006 edition of a newsletter called the "Hot Sheet" published by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, there were predictions that the number of "move-up buyers," ages 35 to 49, would fall in the last half of this decade as the numbers of apartment dwellers (ages 20 to 29), first-time buyers (ages 25 to 34), and "downsizers" (60 and older) would rise.
The Census Bureau's recent estimates cover the period up to mid-2007. The City of St. Paul is up by nearly 1,000, to 277,251. The population of Minneapolis is up by more than 2,300, to 377,392.