Measuring Minnesota

by Nick Dobbins
December 2013

One key to building a healthy workforce is having an educated population, and education is an area where Minnesota shines. Relative to the nation and to our similarly high-achieving neighbors in the Midwest, Minnesota’s workforce is very well-educated, providing a solid foundation for our strong economy.

Minnesota’s population is among the best educated in the nation. According to the most recent estimates (2012) from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 92.5 percent of Minnesotans age 25 years and older are at least high school graduates, which is the highest rate among Midwest states as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. As the table illustrates, every Midwestern state boasts an above average percentage of high school graduates relative to the national population: 89.2 percent of the Midwest population has a diploma or equivalent, versus 84.8 percent in the South and 85.1 in the West. Minnesota also has the highest proportion of bachelor’s degree holders in the region at 33.2 percent. The Midwest does not, however, fare as well in this category, with only three states in the region coming in above the national average of 29.1 percent.

Minnesota also excels, on the opposite end of the education scale, as a region-low 3.1 percent of the population has less than a ninth grade education, compared to a national average of 5.8 percent. The Midwest region leads the way nationally in this category at 3.9 percent, with the next lowest being the Northeast region at 5.1 percent.

Some of Minnesota’s high rate of education may be helped by the attractiveness of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metro to educated young people. The metro area ranked 11th in the nation for incoming migration of people ages 25-34 between 2010 and 2012.1 This tracks with speculation that young people from neighboring areas such as Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas often move to the more opportunity-rich Twin Cities once they complete their education.

Regardless of the cause, the high education rates of Minnesota’s population bode well for the continued health of our economy.


Educational Attainment of Population, 25 Years and Over

State

Percent high school graduate
or higher

Percent bachelor’s degree
 or higher

Minnesota

92.5%

33.2%

North Dakota

91.7%

27.9%

Iowa

91.6%

26.3%

Wisconsin

90.7%

27.1%

Nebraska

90.5%

29.0%

South Dakota

90.5%

26.3%

Kansas

90.2%

30.4%

Michigan

89.2%

26.0%

Ohio

88.8%

25.2%

Missouri

88.0%

26.4%

Illinois

87.6%

31.6%

Indiana

87.6%

23.4%

United States

86.4%

29.1%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, One-year estimates



12012 Current Population Survey 3-year estimates, U.S. Census Bureau. Analysis by William H. Frey at the Brookings Institute: www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/11/15-millennial-senior-post-recession-frey#
See also: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/11/14/millennials-flock-to-washington-after-abandoning-city-in-recession/?mod=wsj_streaming_stream