The Star Tribune on Sunday published an article on the deepening urban-rural divide in Minnesota. The article comes after MREA released two maps, median household income and Free and Reduced Lunch (FRE), illustrating the issue. View the Star Tribune article.
The map on median household income by school districts in the state reveals a 43 percent difference between rural and metro districts. Fifteen Greater Minnesota school districts have FRE percentages of 67 percent or more. View map on median household income. View map on Free and Reduced Lunch (FRE).
Patrick Condon of the Star Tribune writes:
“Minnesota grew by about a million people between 1990 and 2013 — mostly in the metro area and other population centers. But the 30 rural counties that form a rough “L” along the Iowa and Dakota borders shrank in that time, more than half of them by more than 10 percent. Those are long-term population trends, seemingly impervious to both boom and bust cycles, and projected to continue in coming decades.
People in the “L” tend to be older per capita than in more populated areas and make less money. More still make their living farming the land or in agriculture-linked activities. Homes and businesses are scattered widely across the landscape and property values are lower, yielding a weaker tax base.
The ensuing challenges include: how to care for growing numbers of seniors; how to make sure new generations of workers are trained to fill those jobs that do exist, and that they have affordable housing options; how to update a crumbling system of county, city and township roads, and how to deliver up-to-date technology in geographically sparse areas.