Census Bureau estimates say more people moved to Minnesota than moved out of the state last year.

The state gained about 7,500 residents through domestic migration for the year ending July 1, the Pioneer Press reported.

The numbers break a 15-year streak of more people leaving the state than entering it. On average the state has lost about 6,600 people annually over the past decade and a half.

But last year, the state's population grew by nearly 52,000 overall. The state gained nearly 16,500 from international net migration and almost 27,400 from natural growth.

Experts aren't sure what's spurred the new trend and the Census Bureau hasn't yet released specific data on movement between individual states.
"It's hard to pinpoint any clear trend from any one year but it's great to see a positive number," said Susan Brower, the state demographer.

Minnesota's low unemployment rate and low cost of living may have contributed to the population gains, experts said.

"In those terms, Minnesota has an advantage. Historically, we would have talked about where are the winters less extreme," said Jack DeWaard, a University of Minnesota sociologist who studies migration. "Now we're talking more about affordability."

The numbers offer hope for employers that Minnesota's labor force could grow faster than expected.

"I sure hope that it's a turning point and not a one-time blip in the data," said Steve Hine, labor market information director for the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The state projects the number of workers in the state will only grow by 5,000 annually for the next decade, Hine said. If that happens, the state will see "a prolonged period of pretty stagnant employment and economic growth here."