Minnesota Ranked 3rd-Best State in the Nation in New Study from U.S. News and World Report

Report cites Minnesota’s opportunity, infrastructure, education, and healthcare systems as top factors setting Minnesota ahead

In addition to #3 national ranking, study ranks Minnesota best state in the region

ST. PAUL, MN – Citing economic opportunities, great educations, and quality health care in Minnesota, U.S. News and World Report today released a study ranking Minnesota the 3rd-best state in the nation. The study also ranked Minnesota as the best state in the region, when compared to North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.

“This ranking affirms what we already know: we live in one of the very best states in the country,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “But we still have more work to do to ensure that Minnesota is a state that works for everyone. I urge the Legislature to join me in making the investments necessary to ensure that our state remains a national leader in education, health care, modern infrastructure, and other essential elements of economic opportunity for all our citizens.”

Among the categories considered in the study, Minnesota scored top rankings in opportunity, health care, infrastructure, education, and the economy. In every category scored, Minnesota beats the average of all states in the nation. The study notes that Minnesota has “the third-best health care and some of the best infrastructure and opportunity in the nation.”

“This study underscores that investments in education and infrastructure drive opportunities for all Minnesotans, everywhere in our state,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Governor Dayton’s Opportunity Agenda will continue this progress.”

Since Governor Dayton took office, the state has turned a $6 billion deficit into consistent budget surpluses, paid back $2.8 billion in debt to our schools, and added more than 255,400 jobs. Under the Governor’s leadership, the state has made investments in education every year – no excuses, no exceptions – to grow greater opportunity for all Minnesota families. Governor Dayton is now calling for An Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota, to continue that progress and make Minnesota a state that works for everyone, everywhere in our state.

Minnesota’s Number 3 Best State Ranking

In addition to Minnesota’s national number 3 best state ranking, the study also ranked Minnesota as the number 1 state in the region, which also includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Below, see Minnesota’s rankings in the different categories studied.

Category National Ranking Regional Ranking
Opportunity 2 1
Infrastructure 5 1
Health Care 3 1
Education 11 1
Economy 12 2
Crime and Corrections 17 3
Government Administration 24 5

In the study, Minnesota also ranked #1 nationally for Labor Force Participation, #4 for Educational Attainment, and #5 for Medicare Quality. Additional information is available on the U.S. News and World Report website.

Righting the Fiscal Ship 

When Governor Dayton took office in 2011, the state faced a $6 billion projected budget deficit. This shortfall pushed debt on our public schools and forced massive cuts on the efficient, accountable government services that Minnesota families and businesses rely on.

Now, thanks to Governor Dayton’s leadership, Minnesota has seen eight-straight budget surpluses, including the current $1.65 billion projected budget surplus. The state has paid back the $2.8 billion we previously owed our schools, and has begun to reverse years of disinvestments in our students and families. Thanks to the Governor’s sound fiscal management, Minnesota’s budget reserves are now the strongest they have ever been. When Governor Dayton took office, 202,000 Minnesotans were out of work. Since that time, Minnesota has added more than 255,400 jobs across the state.

Economic Indicator

January 2011

January 2017


When Governor Dayton took office, 202,000Minnesotans were out of work.


Minnesota has gained255,400 new jobs since January 2011.
Unemployment Rate When Governor Dayton took office, the unemployment rate in Minnesota was 6.9 percent.



In Dec. 2016, the statewide unemployment rate was3.9 percent.Unemployment has been at or below 4 percent for 30 straight months.


Budget When Governor Dayton took office, Minnesota was facing a $6.2 billion budget deficit.


Now, Minnesota has a$1.65 billion budget surplus and nearly $2 billion in reserves to protect Minnesota from future economic downturns.

E-12 Education



When Governor Dayton took office, the State of Minnesota owed school districts $1.8 billion in unpaid debt.



Now, the State of Minnesota owes our school districts $0 in unpaid debt.

Since taking office, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature have invested an additional$1.5 billion in E-12 Education.



Early Learning



When Governor Dayton took office, 0 childrenwere enrolled in state-funded all-day Kindergarten.


In January 2011, 0 children had received scholarships through the Early Learning Scholarships Program, and 0 children had benefitted from state-supported voluntary pre-Kindergarten.




Now, 99.6 percent of Kindergarteners (over55,000 children) are enrolled in all-day Kindergarten.


Additionally, 25,800 children have benefitted from early learning scholarships, and over3,300 four-year-oldsare benefitting from voluntary pre-Kindergarten.



Graduation Rate


When Governor Dayton took office, 77.2 percentof Minnesota students were graduating from high school.



Now, 82.2 percent of Minnesota students are graduating from high school


Broadband Access



When Governor Dayton took office, the State had helped 0 Greater Minnesota households,0 businesses, and 0 community institutionsgain access to high-speed internet.



Now, with help from the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program, over25,900 households,3,176 businesses, and244 community institutions in Greater Minnesota have gained access to high-speed internet.


Minnesota’s success has been noted in national publications like the Chicago Tribune, where Eric Zorn wrote in 2015 that Minnesota has a “budget surplus and a robust economic climate that’s the envy of the state’s Midwestern neighbors.” This accountable government service under Governor Dayton’s leadership has helped make Minnesota a state that works better for all Minnesotans, everywhere in our state.

Other Top Rankings

Today’s ranking from U.S. News and World Report follows other recent recognitions of Minnesota’s successes. Below, see some of Minnesota’s other top rankings from recent years.

USA TODAY Second-Best Run State in the Nation
CNBC America’s Top States for Business
POLITICO Second-Strongest State in the Nation
GALLUP Top State on the Job Creation Index
WALLET HUB Best State for Women
AARP Best State to Retire In

Governor Mark Dayton has proposed an Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota – a two-year budget including a set of specific solutions to our state’s challenges, and a commitment to a better future for all Minnesotans. Governor Dayton’s Opportunity Agenda will improve education from preschool to career and college training, grow our economy and create good jobs, and reform government to create better opportunities for all Minnesotans, everywhere in our state. Learn more about the Opportunity Agenda on the Governor’s website.