Goal: A strong economy that encourages business investment and promotes opportunities for a competitive workforce.

Minnesota has historically enjoyed a robust economy, characterized by diverse industry, the attraction and retention of a skilled workforce, a tradition of entrepreneurial spirit and an eye toward innovation. Maintaining our high quality of life in any area—from housing to health to education—depends on a strong economy. And, in turn, the vitality of our economy hinges on our continued success in those areas as well.

What's happening

Like much of the country, Minnesota is experiencing mixed results as it seeks to emerge from the economic downturn. Overall economic growth has returned, but economic challenges remain.


Economic output (GDP)

  • There was a drop in real GDP between 2008 and 2009, but Minnesota has made steady gains since then. In 2015, Minnesota's percent increase in real GDP (2.4%) was equal to that in the U.S. overall.
  • At $84,424, economic output per working-age adult is now higher than before the recession in 2008. In fact, it's higher than at any point since at least 2000.
  • Minnesota ranks 11th among states on economic output per working-age adult in 2015, up three spots from 2014. States with higher output include North Dakota, Alaska, Delaware, and Connecticut. Iowa ranks 19th and Wisconsin ranks 24th.

Median income


  • After three consecutive years of increases, Minnesota's poverty rate declined from 11.9 percent in 2011 to 10.2 percent in 2015.
  • Statewide, those who are least able to control their economic well-being–children–are also more likely than any other age group to live in poverty. In 2015, the statewide poverty rate for children age 0-4 was 14.1%.
  • Communities of color are also disproportionately burdened by poverty (23% versus 10% overall). The disparity is consistent over time. There is evidence of a downward trend in the poverty rate for our residents of color from 2011 to 2015.
  • Fourteen percent of preschoolers in Minnesota live in a household with income below the poverty line, compared with 7% in their prime working years (45-64) and 6% in the early years of traditional retirement (65-74). Young adults (18-24, traditionally college age) have the highest poverty rate: around 1 in 5.

Making connections

Investment in early childhood and later in education helps to ensure a skilled workforce to participate in a diverse economy. Access to jobs affects opportunity and productivity, while workers and other residents depend on and contribute to the transportation sector. The good health of our citizens saves money in health care costs and increases regional competitiveness and productivity. Disparities affect the economic contributions that workers and companies can make to our state's vitality, but efforts to strengthen communities from cradle to career hold potential to promote equity and increase competitiveness in the Twin Cities metro and beyond.


At $63,500, Minnesota's median household income is at its highest level since 2006. What region in Minnesota saw the greatest percentage increase between 2006 and 2015?
a) Central
b) Southern
c) Twin Cities
d) West Central


Craig Helmstetter

Minnesota Compass Project Director Craig Helmstetter uses new poverty estimates from the Census Bureau to bust commonly-accepted myths about poverty in Minnesota.

Minnesota Compass

Minnesota Compass
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