Latest census shows western Wisconsin still growing

Posted June 13, 2022

Population growth is up in many cities across western Wisconsin, with River Falls, Hudson and New Richmond being just a few examples.

Although data from the 2020 United States census will still take months and years to be released, there is one thing that’s certain: Whether it be the decreased cost of living or the escape from city life, population across western Wisconsin has been growing since the second half of the 20th century.

“I would say that, one, people are looking to maybe move out of the Twin Cities area, where it is so populated, into more of what you might want to call a suburban, and up till the last couple of years the city of New Richmond has been probably one of the most reasonable communities within decent traveling distance,” said Beth Thompson, the community development director for the city of New Richmond.

New Richmond had the most significant population growth out of the three cities, with an increase of 20.3% since the 2010 census, rising from roughly 8,400 residents to 10,079. In response to the increase in population, New Richmond has been focusing on creating more housing.

Thompson said, “In 2020 we had 125 new dwelling units, and in 2021 we had 114 new dwelling units. That’s really high for a community of our size in just those past couple of years.”

Hudson has seen a decrease in the rate of population growth since the previous census, but it still managed to grow by 16% since 2010. Its population rose from roughly 12,700 residents to 14,755 in the 2020 census.

However, from 2000 to 2010 the community’s population shot up more than 49%. The decrease in the rate of growth compared to previous censuses is due to a slew of different issues, but partially has to do with the city’s position.

“Hudson is a little unique and kind of different from the other communities in western Wisconsin in a lot of ways in that we can’t grow to the west and we can’t because of the river, and we can’t grow to the north because of the village of North Hudson,” said Mike Johnson, assistant city administrator and community development director for the city of Hudson. “Our growth really has to be focused more east and south. So we’re kind of — I don’t wanna say hemmed in — but a little bit, there are only so many places where we can grow.”

Like Hudson, River Falls has also gone through a bit of a dip throughout the 2010s compared to previous census data growth. Even so, there has still been some increase since 2010, with the population growing by 7.9% since the last census, from 15,000 residents to 16,182. Emily Shively, city planner for the city of River Falls, said the economy was a factor in why the 2010s weren’t as prosperous for growth as the decades before.

“So I think there was quite a bit of growth up until the 2010s and then there was the great recession,” she said. “So I think that really put a pause on a lot of growth and development for economic reasons.”