ST. PAUL (Sept. 11, 2013) — Projecting regional population growth of nearly 900,000 people over 30 years, the Metropolitan Council has taken its first cut at forecasting where that future growth is likely to occur among metro area cities and towns.
Council officials say the region’s economy will remain robust, but real estate demand and development patterns will differ from previous decades. Changes in demographics, preferences, and travel behavior are slowing growth at the developing edge of the region, with stepped-up growth in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the inner suburbs.
The Council’s local forecasts reflect market and economic forces, demographic trends, and real estate behaviors.
The forecasts released this week are preliminary and Council staff will work with local officials to review their input. The Council will formally adopt forecasts to 2040 with the Thrive MSP 2040 plan in spring 2014.
“We have been intentional about basing forecasts on what’s happening in the marketplace,” said Council Chair Susan Haigh. “It is, after all, market forces that ultimately shape growth. The Council’s job is to respond by ensuring infrastructure investment that best supports population needs and choices, continued job creation, and a vibrant economy.”
Last year, the Council forecasted a population of 3.74 million people in the region by 2040, with growth of 9 to 10 percent per decade. The preliminary local forecasts project the population, household, and job growth of individual communities to 2040.
“These are preliminary forecasts based on the best, most current information we have about how residents and businesses choose neighborhoods and locations,” said the Council’s Manager of Regional Policy and Research Libby Starling. “A next step is getting input from local officials on how preliminary forecasts correspond to local planning and development expectations.”
Among the market and demographic forces at work:
• Aging: The number of residents over age 65 will grow by 150 percent by 2040, leading to more households without children. Their demand for smaller homes in convenient, accessible locations will substantially affect future home building.
• Changes in real estate market: The post-2007 market crash changed perceptions about home buying and selling as an investment strategy. Price appreciation and expectations on the developing edge have slowed dramatically. Also, younger Millennials show a preference for walkable, connected, and more centrally-located neighborhoods served by transit.
• Preference for accessibility: Proximity to jobs and other destinations is more desirable as households increasingly anticipate traffic congestion and volatile gas prices.
The Council’s forecast anticipates 41 percent growth in the region’s number of households to 2040, 37 percent growth in employment, and 31 percent increase in population. Council officials say natural growth—births outpacing deaths—will account for the majority of the region’s population growth to 2040.
The region also gains population as a result of people moving here from other parts of the nation and world, attracted by the region’s relative prosperity and economic competitiveness.
“The metro area’s success is no accident,” said Haigh. “We are privileged to live in a region with an ongoing commitment to planning, calculated and wise investment, and civic engagement. We also benefit from collaboration among many, many partners, public and private, that ensures the continued vitality, job creation, and prosperity that we enjoy here in the Twin Cities metro area.”
Local government officials will have the opportunity to comment on the preliminary forecasts this fall. With the adoption of revised forecasts next year, communities can integrate forecasts into their local comprehensive plans.
The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county metro area. The Council runs the regional bus and light rail system and Northstar commuter rail, collects and treats wastewater, coordinates regional water resources, plans regional parks, and administers funds that provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families. The Council board is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Governor.