Report Indicates Minnesota is Becoming More Urbanized
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A new report says nearly three-fourths of Minnesotans now live in urban areas, and the population in the rest of the state is getting older.
The report by the State Demographic Center seeks to create a more nuanced understanding of Minnesota outside the Twin Cities area by breaking the state down into urban areas, large towns, small towns and rural areas.
It says the findings raise concerns for the future workforce in smaller communities and highlight the need for planning for delivering health care and other services.
Minnesota's 14 "entirely rural" counties have lost population since 2010, which the report says will mean even more acute labor shortages, while the state's entirely or partially urban counties grew. But the 13 "entirely urban" counties are growing only because of international migration.
The report says of particular concern for health services and caregiving needs, residents of rural and small town Minnesota are more than twice as likely to be age 80 or older than residents in urban parts of the state.
About 27,100 Minnesotans age 80 or older live in rural Minnesota today. More than 1 in 20 residents in rural and small town areas are 80 or above presently. And given the high shares of residents in the next younger age group (65-79), these rates and numbers are anticipated to continue rising.
The report says it will be " essential to plan for the needs of this population, as rural and small town residents are more remote from health care providers and specialists, and due to low population density these areas may face steep challenges to delivering needed services. Employing technological tools and improving coverage and speed of broadband to deliver telemedicine and meet other needs—by conquering distances without being physically present—will be especially valuable."
It goes on to say "Community leaders should consider how to improve social connections for older adults, many of whom live alone, as strengthened social networks can serve as a bulwark against isolation and related health and mental health concerns.".