Rural Minnesotans are more optimistic about the economy in 2016 than they were three years ago but still concerned about the number and quality of jobs, according to Rural Pulse, a survey commissioned by the Blandin Foundation based in Grand Rapids.
Nearly a third of rural Minnesotans (31 percent) said the economy had improved in the last year. That’s significantly higher than the 18 percent of rural residents who thought the economy had improved in 2010 and the 22 percent who said the economy had improved in 2013.
But rural residents were more likely than urban residents to identify job opportunities and attracting new entrepreneurs and businesses as their most critical issues (15 and 14 percent respectively). Urban residents, on the other hand, identified educational opportunities as their top concern (15 percent).
The random survey of Minnesota residents broke the state into two groups based on metro size and population density. “Rural” residents were those who lived outside the state’s largest metro area, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and who also lived in a ZIP code of fewer than 35,000 residents. Under this definition, about half the state’s 5.3 million residents are rural. Using the Census definition, which is based on different criteria such as urbanization and population density, about 27 percent of the state’s population is rural.
This is the fifth Rural Pulse survey, which the foundation first commissioned in 1998.
“Rural places are rich with possibility—abundant natural resources, optimistic and committed leaders, quality of life,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO for Blandin Foundation, in a press release from the foundation.
“Nearly half of our state’s population lives in rural places, and Rural Pulse results remind us that economic recovery is not yet reaching all Minnesotans. We must press on if we want to be a state that is resilient, healthy and vibrant.”
Other findings confirmed that rural residents in the North Star State have a dimmer view of economic recovery than their urban counterparts.
Different demographic groups and regions of the state had differing opinions about the state of the economy, the study found:
Rural residents overall were less satisfied with many community services in 2016 compared to 2013. Opinions about services for the elderly, education, crime control, environmental stewardship, and broadband access declined. But rural residents were more likely in 2016 to say they had adequate healthcare than they were in 2013.
The 2016 survey, administered by Russell Herder, was given to a random sample of 1,144 rural Minnesotans and 450 urban Minnesotans. The margin of error for the rural survey was +/-2.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. For the urban sample, the margin of error was +/- 4.7 percentage points.
Complete results of the survey, along with additional studies on racial diversity and other topics, are available at the Rural Pulse website.