State of the State? It’s Great.

image002When Gov. Dayton took office in 2011, he promised to “build a Better Minnesota.” Check out the list below sent out by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) to see how the state ranks nationally in a number of important areas.

And if Gov. Dayton is able to make the investments in education and transportation he outlined in his State of the State April 9, we’ll live in an even Better Minnesota.

EMPLOYMENT. The state’s 3.7 percent unemployment rate is the 5th best in the country, compared to the national average of 5.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Like in other states, however, some of the new jobs are coming with limited hours and benefits. Dakota County’s unemployment rate is 3.2 percent.

BUSINESS CLIMATE. For the second year in a row, Minnesota cracked Forbes list of the Top 10 States for Business. Until two years ago, it had been quite a while since we made the Top 10.

SCHOOLS. Minnesota has the highest average ACT scores in the country and ranks second nationally with over 91 percent of residents possessing at least a high school degree. Several local high schools also rank among the best in the nation. But states like Minnesota and Connecticut with high test scores among white students also have the widest achievement gap compared with students of color.

COLLEGE. The State is home to some of the nation’s best colleges and ranks in the top 10 for college graduates and graduation rates, but we also rank in the top 10 for saddling students with loans – an average of over $28,000 per student.

INCOME. We rank 11th nationally with respect to median income.

POVERTY RATE. At 8.1 percent, Minnesota has the 4th lowest poverty rate in the country, compared to a national average of 12.6 percent.

HEALTH. Minnesota’s hospitals are ranked the best in the country. Our life expectancy is 80.85 years, number 2 in the nation, narrowly behind Hawaii.

QUALITY OF LIFE. Admittedly a less empirical standard, Minnesota has been ranked among the top 10 states for quality of life by more than a dozen publications, with at least two rating Minnesota’s quality of life as the best in the nation.

STATE FINANCES. With a $1.9 billion projected surplus, an exemplary bond rating, a healthy reserve and the 5th-fastest growing economy in the country, Minnesota is the envy of many states across the country. 

PUBLIC SAFETY. Minnesota’s murder rate is 1.68 per 100,000 people, placing us 4th lowest in the country. Overall, the violent crime rate is 240.7 per 100,000 people, putting Minnesota as the 9th-safest state in the nation.

ENVIRONMENT/OUTDOORS. Outdoors enthusiasts are not surprised that Minnesota places at or near the top of countless lists touting our environmental efforts and recreational opportunities.

TRANSPORTATION. Massachusetts and Minnesota lead the nation for the lowest fatality rates on our highways. For overall performance and cost-effectiveness, however, Minnesota ranked 28th, according to the Reason Foundation’s 21st Annual Highway Report. More than 50 percent of the state’s roads are over 50 years old, and 40 percent of the state’s bridges are over 40 years old.

LONG TERM CARE. Minnesota ranked 19th on the Families for Better Care Annual Report Card.

TAXES. Yep, it costs more to live in Minnesota. The most recent analysis of state and local tax rates shows Minnesotans pay $6,140 in state and local taxes, which is $698 more than the national average. This puts Minnesota at 17th highest on the list.