As election time draws near, we hear a great deal about conditions in our communities, our state, and our nation.
Opposing candidates have their own spins on what has gone well and not so well. The challengers always blame the incumbents for the bad stuff, while the incumbents explain that whatever bad things exist stem from the time when the challenger’s party held office. Each candidate has a plan for the future; each opponent can explain why that plan won’t work.
So, we thought we would share what we know, from data which have recently emerged on community conditions. Any resemblance of this information to statements made by candidates is purely coincidental. However, we do hope that all candidates use these data as their reference point for their platforms, that they draw conclusions based on valid information, and that they build strategies with a sound understanding of the reality of our population.
Because, of course: “We are all entitled to our own opinions; but we are not entitled to our own facts.”
How much money do we make?
Most of the information on this topic tells us things that we will not relish. Some candidates will quote these data; others will try to conceal these data or explain them away.
- Median household income has dropped $3,000 since 2006, from nearly $60,000 to $57,000. (That means that half of all households in Minnesota make less than $57,000 per year.)
- Since 2006, younger households (headed by people 24 and younger) have lost the most ground financially -- their median income decreased more than $5,000. On the other hand, older (65+ years) households actually gained $1,700 in median income.
- Foreign-born households saw median incomes decline faster than other households.
- Minnesota’s median income ranks 11th best among the 50 states; the Twin Cities metro ranks 6th among the largest 25 metropolitan regions in the U. S.
Who lives in poverty?
- Poverty rates have increased in Minnesota and the U.S. as a whole. Nationally, in just one year, 2010, two million additional people dropped below the poverty line.
- Minnesota ranks 11th in the nation for having one of the lowest shares of people below the poverty level (not number 1, but better than 39 other states).
- Statewide, and in the Twin Cities, poverty rates for children under 5 continue to rise, as do the rates for people 18-64, though a bit more slowly. The 5-17 age group rate has leveled off in the past year, and those 65+ are seeing a smaller share in poverty. Females, more often than males, live in poverty.
- People of color in Minnesota more often live in poverty than do whites. Our racial gap looks worse than the nation’s. Of particular note: Thirty points separate the share of white (non-Hispanic) and American Indian Minnesotans in poverty.
What are the jobs? Are people working?
Like it or not, the economy has a substantial influence on all elements of our quality of life. “It’s still the economy...” (I’m certain that some candidate, at some time, has said that.)
- The three largest industry sectors in the state are education and health, professional and business services, and manufacturing. These three sectors comprise nearly half of all jobs in the state (49%).
- Minnesota ranks fourth among states for the proportion of adults working; however, current participation is below the 2008 level.
- Nationally and statewide, 70 percent of foreign-born adults are working. In Minnesota, 77 percent of native-born adults are working.
- Something not to celebrate: Minnesota is among the worst states in the nation for our 21 point gap between the proportion of black adults working (57%) and the proportion of white adults working (78%).
Health insurance for everyone?
Whether it’s Obamacare or Romneycare, let’s hope that all of us have health insurance. At present:
- The share of Minnesotans without health insurance remains at 1 in 10—that places Minnesota at 5th best in the nation.
- However, our share of kids 17 and younger without health insurance has remained steady at 6%, which places us back at 28th in the nation.
- About 16% of 18 to 34 year-olds lack health insurance—a number that raises questions about the quality and existence of benefits for early career adults.
- The share of 18 to 24 year olds with coverage has increased—most likely as a result of the law allowing young adults under 26 to stay on their parents' health care plans.
- Those below the poverty level are nearly twice as likely to be without health insurance as those above, but nonetheless about one in 10 Minnesotans who are not poor do not have health insurance.
- The geography of uninsured matches poverty: Ramsey County has the highest share of both in the Twin Cities metro.
What about education?
- Minnesota continues to be one of the most highly educated states in the nation. Compared to other states, Minnesota ranks 10th in the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher (32%).
- Minnesota is home to an even larger share of young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher (38%)—ranking 8th among the fifty states and affirming our ability to retain and attract young, highly educated residents.
- The Twin Cities ranks 5th among major metropolitan areas for the share of young, educated adults, just behind the young professional epicenters of Boston, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and New York City.
- Nonetheless, we see locally a stagnating share of adults of color with a bachelor’s degree. Since the start of the recession, the gap in educational attainment between non-Hispanic white adults and adults of color has widened. This has occurred both statewide and in the Twin Cities.
So, there you have it…
I’m not running for office. So, you can definitely trust me! However, if you don’t trust me, or even if you do but you want to find specific numbers, sources, and definitions, please explore Minnesota Compass, and have fun fact checking your favorite candidates and their opponents.