Stearns County has seen a steady increase in population since 2000. In 2000, the population was 133,166 and increased to 153,661 in 2016. The fastest growing areas from a percentage basis have been in the St. Cloud Metropolitan Area and communities along the I-94 and Highway 23 corridor. Stearns County can anticipate modest levels of growth over the next twenty to thirty years. The Minnesota State Demographer has projected Stearns County will add 7,500 new people by the year 2050. It is assumed this growth will primarily occur within the cities or along their borders.
The age distribution of the people who live in Stearns County will have an important impact on land uses and services that current and future residents will demand. It is important to examine the age distribution of current Stearns County residents, because they will demand certain types of housing as their age and family composition changes.
Stearns County’s median age increased from 31.6 to 34.1 between 2000 and 2016. This increase suggests Stearns County residents are getting older, which mirrors national trends as the baby boom generation (born between approximately 1964 and 1964) gets older.
Minnesota’s population is changing and so is that of Stearns County. In 2016, the largest groups of foreign-born Minnesotans were born in Mexico, India, and Somalia. In Stearns County it was Somalia, Mexico, and Ethiopia. Stearns County has seen significant increases in minority populations over the last two decades. In 2000, 95.2% of Stearns County identified themselves as “white only” (non-Hispanic/ Latino). By 2016, 88.6% of Stearns County’s population identified as “white only.” This trend is likely to be one of the defining elements of Stearns County over the next decade. Stearns County’s ethnic diversity will shape housing demands and the delivery of services, such as, recreation opportunities, multiple language materials and communications, and school programming. The diversity can also foster diverse business opportunities, as well as new cultural and community activities.