Measuring progress. Inspiring action.



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We surveyed the broadband landscape in Minnesota to answer three questions: Who owns a device? Who has an internet subscription? And what quality high-speed service is available to them?

map of Minnesota

Minnesota is home to 5.6 million people and growing. As we head into next year’s decennial census, Compass project director Allison Liuzzi takes a look at what’s fueling our state’s growth.

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High participation in the labor force may not protect Minnesota from experiencing significant talent shortages over the next five years. What do the numbers say about how we can we chip away Minnesota’s workforce shortage?

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We know how many children live in poverty or are in foster care. We track this data because it provides information that policymakers and others can use to inform policy. But does this data, which enumerates facts about children through a deficit lens, provide a balanced accounting of the well-being of children?

10 Years since the Recession

In the decade since the official end of the Great Recession, how has our state fared economically? At a high level, our state continues to see progress on several economic measures. But it would be inaccurate to conclude that the progress our state has made has delivered for all.

The proposed Southwest Light Rail line (LRT) took a step closer to reality after the Federal Transit Administration approved a major source of funding for the project. The LRT has drawn a lot of speculation on its possible benefits. We take a look at some possible outcomes.

Community-led solutions are community-initiated or owned, with or without outside funding or resources. Broad networks of groups such as block clubs, neighborhood associations, faith communities, community-based social service agencies, schools, libraries, parks, and local businesses may be involved in the community endeavor. From the outset, these local groups come together through grassroots or community-based organizing, with the flexibility and freedom to design their own processes and determine their own indicators of success.

Get ready to choose your own data adventure, Minnesota! The Build Your Own statewide data tool is here. In this article, Compass researcher Ellen Wolter shares how you can use this tool to customize data for your Minnesota community.

Minnesota Compass staff spent last fall traveling across the state and listening to learn how we can improve our data and tools for greater Minnesota. In this article, Compass researcher Ellen Wolter shares some of the issues on the minds of people across the state.

It's that time of year… ♪♫ School's out for summer! ♪♫ Here are a couple of things we know about what our kids do when they're not in school.

As one of the newest members of the Minnesota Compass team, Richard Chase, Wilder Research, looked across the topic areas on the Compass website to draw out three sets of interacting trends and data points – demographic, economic, social – that touch on issues of race and region.

"Data disaggregation" just means splitting large, general categories into more specific groups. In this article, Nicole MartinRogers, Wilder Research, discusses how to appropriately and meaningfully disaggregate data to support informed decisions.

Minnesota Compass celebrated its 10th anniversary on February 27th, when about 200 people joined us for our annual meeting.

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Nearly 78,000 people visited the Minnesota Compass web site approximately 123,000 times in 2017 to find reliable data and analysis about how Minnesota is doing in key areas. Here is the content on our site that was most popular in the last year.

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Out of more than 700 tweets from @MNCompass in 2017, here are the five that received the most engagement.

Minnesota has a lot to be thankful for this November. Here are six trends identified by Minnesota Compass staff that highlight positive improvements affecting the lives of many Minnesotans in important ways.

Minnesota Compass staff have been on the road across Minnesota to hear from communities about the information and tools they need to better understand the opportunities and challenges facing their regions.

The older adult population is large – and growing!

Minnesota Compass recently launched a new Arts and Culture section!

Now you can compare profiles!

Minnesota Compass is excited to announce two new features to help you use data to learn more about your community!

Minnesota's Risk and Reach project takes a county by county look at potential risks to the healthy development of young children and the reach of public services to address areas of need. Project directors Elizabeth Carlson, University of Minnesota, and Richard Chase, Wilder Research, explain why it matters and suggest ways you might use this information.

Craig Helmstetter

Former Compass Project Director Craig Helmstetter takes a look at Compass measures to see how we stack up against other states, and looks ahead at what opportunities the New Year holds.

Ellen Wolter

Compass researcher Ellen Wolter highlights 5 features in the new Twin Cities Region section of Compass that can help you learn more about your community of interest.

Minnesota's school-age youth make up a large portion of our state's residents – almost 1 million people. Put another way – we’d need a fleet of nearly 13,000 school buses to get all those kids off to school at once. Here are a few things to know about youth across the state.

Craig Helmstetter

Former Compass Project Director Craig Helmstetter dug into data on education, employment, health, and housing to help answer that question.Take a look at what he found.

Philando Castile, driving with two passengers, including a four-year-old child, is shot during a police traffic stop. He dies. It's senseless. What can we do about this? How can we prevent it from happening again?

I can't pretend to know everything we need to accomplish in order to move forward as a united community. However, as of now, I am fairly certain about three things we should do.

Last month, Compass researcher Allison Liuzzi's Insight article highlighted how the backgrounds and experiences of Minnesota’s immigrants have changed over time. This month Paul Mattessich, Compass governance chair and Wilder Research executive director, provides insights gleaned from a new study from Wilder conducted with immigrant and refugee communities in the Twin Cities.

Immigration has greatly influenced the economic and cultural development of our state. But the backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences of Minnesota’s immigrants have changed considerably over time, and differ from the nation as a whole. Compass researcher Allison Liuzzi explains.

Allison Liuzzi

Compass researcher Allison Liuzzi takes a look at new and updated data in our revised Civic Engagement section and shares her insights.

Jennifer Valorose

How can we promote civic engagement in young adults? Jennifer Valorose, Wilder Research, shares results from a long-term study of a youth leadership program.

Craig Helmstetter

Former Compass Project Director Craig Helmstetter uses a humanities-based framework developed by Thriving Cities, to look at the well-being of the greater Minneapolis and Saint Paul area.

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We've added a host of new features and content to the Compass website this year to improve its value for our readers. What information has proven to be the most popular? Communications Manager Nancy Hartzler compiled this list of the top 5 viewed sections.

Ellen Mai

Now you can build your own profile for Minneapolis and Saint Paul neighborhoods with our new interactive mapping tool!

Former Compass researcher Ellen Mai explains how, creating scenarios that walk you through a custom build, and providing tips to assist you in using the new tool to help you meet your planning and analytic needs.

Craig Helmstetter

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

Ellen Mai

The newly released Central Corridor Tracker and Big Picture Project reports measure the impact of light rail on neighborhoods along University Avenue between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul.

Former Compass researcher Ellen Mai, who managed the data analysis for the projects, reflects on the latest outcomes and shares key takeaways.

Greg Owen

Wilder Research completed its first study of homelessness in St. Paul in 1984. At that time, homelessness had become more prevalent due to recession, closing of psychiatric hospitals, demolition of inferior housing as part of federal urban renewal, and reductions in federal funding.

Richard Chase photo

What is the right question to help resolve the debate about universal preschool? Dr. Richard Chase, senior research manager at Wilder Research, weighs in. Dr. Chase is the author of a new policy brief, Championing Early Childhood Policies that Prevent Social, Economic, and Educational Inequities.

Mike Langley

GREATER MSP has the mission of accelerating job growth and capital investment for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul 16-county region. We asked CEO Michael Langley to provide his insights on the region's ability to develop, attract, and retain a diverse workforce.

Paul Mattessich

The Atlantic joined a long list of media which, throughout the past few decades, have heralded Minnesota’s high quality of life. However, a careful, more detailed look at the data reveals what’s called the “Minnesota Paradox.” Wilder Research Executive Director and Compass Governance chair explains.

Susan Brower

The state demographer's office recently analyzed patterns of migration to better understand who is moving to Minnesota and who is moving away. State Demographer Susan Brower highlights some key findings, and gives her insight about what they mean. 

Craig Helmstetter

As we approach year’s end, I have been taking stock of some of the most important trends facing our state; reflecting on the “key measures” we have developed with input from literally hundreds of advisors who have helped us shape Minnesota Compass. As I did so, five good news/bad news stories emerged from my own look at the data. Here is my list.

Paul Mattessich

What's the most effective way to get action started to improve community health? Start a fire. Paul Mattessich, executive director of Wilder Research and Compass project director explains.

Kari Dennissen-Cunnien

Ignite Afterschool's Kari  Denissen-Cunnien outlines how people and organizations across Minnesota are working to engage young people in the crucial learning opportunities that happen outside the school day.

Nancy Hartzler

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, I dug into our Compass data and pulled out 5 trends I found interesting and hope you do too!

Todd Graham

What might Minnesota's population be in 2040? It depends on who you ask. Todd Graham, principal forecaster for the Metropolitan Council, highlights some of the published forecasts, assumptions each makes, and some of the challenges of predicting the future.

Betsy Leach

Learn how Betsy Leach, executive director of the District 1 Community Council in Saint Paul, uses neighborhood profiles to dispel misconceptions and advocate for resources.

Craig Helmstetter

Our baby boomer population is like a jet airplane that has just lifted off. Former Compass Project Manager Craig Helmstetter highlights 5 implications for Minnesota.

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Erik Torch, Director of Grantmaking, Northland Foundation and Nate Dorr, Program Officer, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, share their thoughts on how new city profiles and other Compass data can help drive decision making in their communities.

Rowzat Shipchandler

Would you like to move your organization's equity focus from conversation to holistic organizational commitment? Minnesota Philanthropy Partners Racial Equity Manager Rowzat Shipchandler shares three ideas to keep in mind as you help your organization define its own role in combating racism.

Jane Tigan

There has been much debate on the impact and potential impact of the new Green Line Light Rail on surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. Former Compass researcher Jane Tigan tracked data for a couple of related projects and shared some findings to help inform the discussion.

Ruth Hamberg

A new white paper on gender disparities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) got Ruth Hamberg thinking about the benefits of STEM skills she has experienced and the importance of supporting all students in STEM subjects.

demographics by generation

The millennial generation (currently age 14-33) has become the subject of a lot of media attention. Former Compass researchers Craig Hlemstetter and Jane Tigan dug into the data and pulled out some trends related specifically to this age group in Minnesota.

Chris Oien

Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual meeting of Minnesota Compass, the premiere source of social indicators that measure progress in our state. With a theme of Minnesota Next: Millennials, Leadership, and the Information Economy, the gathering included presentations by MCF President Trista Harris and Jennifer Ford Reedy, president of the Bush Foundation.

Kyle Bozentko

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Minnesota Compass Annual Meeting with nearly two-hundred regional data-lovers. The theme of the meeting was "Minnesota Next: Millennials, Leadership, and the Information Economy."

Lisa Peterson dela Cueva

It blows our minds here at CTEP when we see bright young teens try out, and master new technologies. Our eyes light up when we see a teenager code a zombie computer game using Scratch, doctor a picture in Photoshop, design and print a 3-D model of an octopus, create a robot, or shoot and edit a film in Premiere

Diane Tran
Erik Dunens

Ever had that strange feeling that people are talking about you while you are in the room? We did while at Minnesota Compass' Annual Meeting "Minnesota next: Millennials, leadership, and the information economy." We were amongst 13% of the self-identified Millennial population in the room. Having served on the core team for the Minnesota Rising Cascading Conversations Tour over the past two years, we had a particular interest in data and trends related to the rising generation in our state.



Compass researchers share the trends (and accompanying graphs) they found most meaningful or surprising in 2013.

Paul Mattessich

What can we expect for 2014? The trends people follow, and which they hope to foresee for the future, depend upon their goals. At Wilder Research, we strive to make Minnesota a better place for all. So, below appear some trends of importance to watch, for those of us in the business of building human capital and improving communities' quality of life.

Richard Chase

A School Readiness Report Card prepared by Wilder Research for the Minnesota Office of Early Learning shows systemic challenges that begin before birth. Wilder Research Senior Manager Richard Chase lays them out.

Jane Tigan

Data for the proportion of adults working in Minnesota were recently released. Former Compass researcher Jane Tigan provides some insight into what these numbers tell us.


A new report based on the 2012 statewide homeless study conducted by Wilder Research was released in September. Study Directors Greg Owen and Michelle Decker Gerrard share key findings.

Marilee Grant

Marilee Grant, Boston Scientific community relations director, explains why measures of STEM success and proven strategies for action are important to Minnesota's bright future and vibrant economy.

Caryn Mohr

Minnesota Compass is pleased to introduce a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) section that was developed in partnership with Boston Scientific and with the guidance of an advisory committee. Caryn Mohr, lead researcher for the project, answers FAQs about the project, its implementation, and examples of what the information can tell us.

Stacey Millett

Stacey Millett, senior program officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, talks to Minnesota Compass about the Foundation's work, Equity in Action, and how the Foundation is responding to the arrival of health care exchanges.

Craig Helmstetter

Former Compass project manager Craig Helmstetter points out 5 things Minnesotans should know about our unique and growing immigrant population.

Jo-Anne Stately

The Minneapolis Foundation's annual OneMinneapolis Community Indicators Report focuses on education, job creation, and civic engagement. We asked Jo-Anne Stately, Director of Impact Strategy and Economic Vitality at the Minneapolis Foundation, about how the report informs the Foundation's work with grantees and has helped the Foundation talk to their grantees and the public about equity.

Max Musicant

As part of the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation placemaking series highlighting the Knight research, Minnesota Compass co-sponsored an event to look at economic and social outcomes related to placemaking. At the event, Max Musicant, Founder and Pricipal: Placemaker of The Musicant Group, demonstrated measurable impacts of placemaking through a case study examining his work in Cancer Survivor's Park, located on Nicollet Mall.

Ruth Hamberg

Which topic links education, the labor force, public funding, intellectual exploration, and the aspirations of families, individuals, and communities? The answer: postsecondary education.

Steve Hine

Over the past few years, there has been much discussion about the skills gap in Minnesota. Steve Hine, research director of DEED's Labor Market Information Office, authored a new report on this topic, and shares insights he gained from the study.

Megan Chmielewski

Most people are aware of the U.S. Census Bureau's Decennial Census that every American household fills out once a decade, but fewer are aware that the Census Bureau puts out Population Estimates every year, using birth, death, and migration rates to estimate the population of the United States by age, sex, race, and ethnicity at all geography levels. It turns out a lot can happen between one census and the next!

Claire Chang

The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Compass teamed up to create unique East Metro data profiles on the Minnesota Compass website. Claire Chang, associate vice president of grants and program for The Saint Paul Foundation, talks with Compass about the inspiration for the profiles, how they can be used, and their role in the $1 million Forever Saint Paul Challenge.

Todd Graham

Todd Graham, Metropolitan Council's principal demographer, explains thenew MSA and shares his view of the recent expansion of the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MSA from 13 counties to 16 counties.

Allison Churilla

The Minnesota Compass team, along with Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassilius and Boston Scientific's Director of Community Relations Marilee Grant, recently convened an Education Advisory Group to provide insight on key measures featured in our Education topic area.

Chris Oien

Recently, I was fortunate to attend the Minnesota Compass annual meeting. It was great to celebrate this organization's work in advancing our understanding of Minnesota now and in the future, and to reflect on what these statistics mean for our state. The most sobering findings won't surprise anyone who's heard about Minnesota's large racial achievement gaps.

Paul Mattessich

Minnesota Compass won a national award – our community and state win a much bigger reward! The Compass project staff at Wilder Research were proud to accept an "Impact Award" at the Annual Community Indicators Conference in Washington D.C. last month. The award honored the project for its pace-setting quality providing useful information that communities throughout our state can use to maintain and improve their quality of life.

Jane Tigan

We know that a lot of people like to have data about the state as a whole, but also want to be able to say what is going on in their own area. For that reason, we provide data for all 87 of Minnesota's counties, and the 55 cities with populations over 20,000. You can access this data in two ways: by region and by topic area.

Paul Mattessich

Before the recent election, we heard a great deal about conditions in our communities, our state, and our nation, and the conversation continues. So, we thought we would share what we know, from data which have recently emerged on community conditions. Because, of course: "We are all entitled to our own opinions; but we are not entitled to our own facts."

Randi Roth

Compass talked with Randi Roth, Executive Director of the Otto Bremer Foundation since 2008, about community involvement and the Foundation's role in promoting it.

Paul Mattessich

Times are tough. We know that. Those of us who manage organizations serving the community and who have worked through demanding times before also recognize that, with creativity and hard work, we can persevere; we can succeed in continuing to meet the needs of the community.

Jane Tigan

Construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail Line running along University Avenue and linking downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis is well underway. The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative provides support to build on the strengths of adjacent neighborhoods, and is working with Compass staff to track changes along the corridor.

Melanie Ferris

In Robert Putnam's book, "Bowling Alone," he demonstrated that since the 1960s, Americans have become less involved in their communities, less trusting in their neighbors, and less likely to give of their time and resources. In short, he concluded that the fabric holding together neighborhoods is slowly unraveling. And he warns that our stock of social capital has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities.

Allison Churilla

The gender wage gap is one of the most frequently cited social indicators of gender disparity. According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a full-time working woman in Minnesota earns, on average, 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man. This represents positive change since 2003, when the gender wage gap hit a low of 74 cents.

Craig Helmstetter
Paul Mattessich

Super Bowl victors come and go every 12 months. Can you even remember who won a few weeks ago, or last year? However, training and play execution for a prosperous Minnesota require 365 days of attention. Can we win at that game?

What might the ESPN-like pundits observe, were they to gauge the likelihood of a Minnesota victory in this global economy? Where does our General Manager (aka all of us who care about the state) need to focus attention?

Jane Tigan

Housing is more than shelter. Our communities need stable neighborhoods where families can put down roots. Children need safe, stable homes and neighborhoods to flourish and succeed in school. With so much changing in the housing market, reports of volatile prices, it's a good chance to take a step back and look at how all of these numbers are impacting our communities.



Four Things to Know About Housing in Greater Minnesota

Greater Minnesota faces unique challenges that affect the quality and availability of housing. But just as different regions of Minnesota vary greatly by industry and demographics, housing markets across the state differ too. We explore this complexity in greater detail with our first-ever story map.

Featured trend

Working-age adults, 1960-2010, Today, and by 2025

Age trends are transforming Minnesota

In the coming years, Minnesota’s older adult population should continue to grow as our working-age population appears to be leveling off. As a result, the ratio of working-age adults to older adults will continue to shrink over the coming decade. Potential implications are widespread, from housing and transportation needs in aging communities, to demands on the workforce as baby boomers continue to retire.


Learn more about the retirement- to working-age ratio.