Minnesota brings to mind images of Saint Paul, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.
However, like all states, Minnesota has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Minnesota that could use a helping hand.
To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 144 places in Minnesota with more than 5,000 people.
We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the North Star State for 2018:
- International Falls (Photos)
- Bemidji (Photos)
- Virginia (Photos)
- Winona (Photos)
- Hibbing (Photos)
- St. Cloud (Photos)
- Mankato (Photos)
- St. Paul (Photos)
- Columbia Heights (Photos)
- Sauk Rapids (Photos)
Again, this isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.
And according to the facts, International Falls is the poorest place in Minnesota for 2018.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
How We Determined The Poorest Places In Minnesota For 2018
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.
However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the ‘poorest places’. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2012-2016 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
- Unemployment Rate
The ‘median household income adjusted for the cost of living’ attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.
The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.
After we collected the data for all 144 places with more than 5,000 people in Minnesota, we ranked each place from 1 to 144 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.
We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a ‘Poor Score’ with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, International Falls, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Minnesota For 2018’.
You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 144 places.
1. International Falls
Population: 6,226Median Income: $38,750
Unemployment Rate: 10.8%
Poverty Rate: 25.6%
International Falls, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Minnesota thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 6,226 people averages the 6th lowest median household income in Minnesota and the 3rd highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.
Population: 14,664Median Income: $33,680
Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
The second poorest city in Minnesota is Bemidji.
The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the North Star State.
Population: 8,594Median Income: $35,150
Unemployment Rate: 7.1%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
Placing as the third poorest city, Virginia’s median income ranks as the 3rd lowest.
And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 24.1% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.
But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the North Star State.
Population: 27,372Median Income: $43,701
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Poverty Rate: 19.5%
Winona ranks as the fourth poorest place in Minnesota.
The town ranks as having the 13th lowest median household income and the 14th highest incidence of poverty in the state.
That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.
Population: 16,230Median Income: $42,004
Unemployment Rate: 7.7%
Poverty Rate: 18.2%
The fifth poorest city in Minnesota is Hibbing.
The city ranks as having the 9th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 20th highest in Minnesota.
Still not the best news for Hibbing.
6. St. Cloud
Population: 66,770Median Income: $45,223
Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
Poverty Rate: 23.2%
St. Cloud ranks as the sixth poorest place in the North Star State.
It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 15th highest unemployment rate.
Population: 40,900Median Income: $43,808
Unemployment Rate: 5.5%
Poverty Rate: 24.6%
Mankato places as the seventh poorest city in Minnesota.
The city of over 40,900 ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
8. St. Paul
Population: 297,160Median Income: $50,820
Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Poverty Rate: 21.6%
St. Paul ranks as the eighth poorest city in Minnesota.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.
9. Columbia Heights
Population: 19,689Median Income: $48,791
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Poverty Rate: 18.0%
Columbia Heights couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Minnesota; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 30th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Columbia Heights ranks as having the 21st most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Minnesota.
10. Sauk Rapids
Population: 13,334Median Income: $48,164
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Poverty Rate: 19.6%
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Minnesota is Sauk Rapids.
The city of 13,334 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the North Star State.
There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Minnesota For 2018
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Minnesota, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Minnesota.
When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.
If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in Minnesota, according to data:
2nd Richest: Victoria
3rd Richest: Otsego
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