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Numbers show a decade of change

Every year, Dakota County's office of planning and management compiles a document it calls its Community Indicators Report, a collection of facts and figures that quantifies everything from population growth to the health of the county's waters. The report is intended to give elected officials and others in the county some context as they make decisions throughout the year, but it also allows those officials -- and anyone else who cares to sift through the 100-plus page report -- to get an idea how the county has changed.

"I think it gives us a good picture for the work that we do," said Debra Miller, management analyst for the county. "It's a fascinating project to work on, because you get to look at the big picture of what is happening within the county."

That's what we're after. As we near the end of the first full decade of the 2000s, we're going to take a look at where Dakota County is now and where it's come from.

What we see at first glance is a county that is growing, but not as much as it once did and not as fast as some of its neighbors. We see a county that is aging, and that is more diverse today than it's ever been.

We see a county that is struggling along with the rest of the state in a difficult economy, but that has fewer felony prosecutions than it did in 2002.

Finally, we see a county that is taking great pains to preserve natural spaces even as open land disappears beneath new homes. The county is working on an ambitious greenway plan meant to eventually connect all of the cities in the county with recreation space. In the Rosemount area, plans are taking shape for a new regional park.

These numbers cannot tell the full story of the county, obviously. No numbers can. But they are an interesting starting point.

"You can get a sense of, these are some of the trends we're seeing, or these are some of the spikes," Miller said.

Over the next four weeks we will take a closer look at some of those trends and talk about what they mean for Dakota County and its residents. We will look at population, at the economy, at crime and at the county's natural resources.

For now, though, the numbers included at left provide a snapshot.


396,500 Dakota County's population in 2009. The population grew just .75 percent from 2008. The county averaged at least 4,800 new residents from 2000 to 2007.

12.7 Percent of the county's population in 2008 that was not white, up from 8.6 percent in 2000. According to the Minnesota demographer 80 percent of population growth from 2005 to 2035 will be nonwhite.

35.9 Average age of county residents in 2008, up from 33.7 in 2000. Married couples with children have now been replaced by married couples without children as the most common type of household in the county.

1,959 Foreclosures last year in Dakota County. That's down from 2,052 in 2008 but up more than nine times from the 159 foreclosures in 2000. Notices of pendency -- notifications the foreclosure process has begun -- were up 25 percent from 2008 to 2009. Rosemount is among the Dakota County cities with the highest rates of pendency notices.

48 Number of impaired waters on a 2010 draft list in Dakota County, up from 36 in 2008. Impairments typically include bacteria that degrade recreational value, excessive nutrients that affect fish habitat and aesthetics and toxins like PCBs.

30,750 Acres of protected open space in Dakota County. That includes county and city parks, Department of Natural Resources-administered programs and state parks.


Violent crimes in Dakota County in 2008, an all-time high. Overall, however, felony prosecutions in Dakota County have fallen since 2002.