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Compared to 10 years ago, 53 percent of Minnesotans say they are financially better off, while 16 percent say they are worse off, and 30 percent feel about the same.

Just over half of Minnesotans report personal financial progress over the decade

Urban and rural Minnesotans weathered the recession in similar fashion; not so for all age groups

Although we have economic data aplenty—on incomes, wages, jobs gained or lost, stock market returns, and more—we don’t often see data from the point-of-view of people reflecting on their economic security and progress, or lack thereof.

Underneath the headline indicators, we know there are numerous untold economic stories: a young father who fears missing the rent this month, a small businesswoman who’s finally turning a profit after years of long hours and short fingernails.

When we designed the MPR News | APM Research Lab Ground Level Survey, we were especially curious about Minnesotans’ sense of their financial circumstances and whether they felt they had improved or deteriorated since 2007—just preceding the financial crisis and subsequent recession with its long tail.

That’s why our survey asked Minnesotans, “Do you feel you are financially secure, somewhat financially secure, or not financially secure?” A minority of Minnesotans—4 in 10—indicate they feel financially secure today. A similar share feel somewhat financially secure (41%), while the remaining 14 percent report they are not financially secure.

Of note, this group reporting financial vulnerability is 1.5 times larger than the latest official poverty rate (9%) for adults in Minnesota—indicating that many of those north of the poverty line still fear they are in precarious financial straits.

GL financial security graph 2
Source: MPR News | APM Research Lab 2017 Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans
Source: MPR News | APM Research Lab 2017 Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans

The Ground Level Survey also asked Minnesotans, “Thinking about where your personal financial situation is today, compared to ten years ago - that is since 2007 - is your personal financial situation today better, worse, or the same?”

It’s encouraging to know that just over half of Minnesotans experienced what they perceive as economic progress over the past decade, even if those gains were battered or waylaid during the recession. Thirty percent of Minnesotans said they feel about the same, while 16 percent of adults report they are worse off than 10 years ago.

economic improvement graph 4
Source: MPR News | APM Research Lab 2017 Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans
Source: MPR News | APM Research Lab 2017 Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans

These more personal appraisals of economic well-being give us insights into Minnesotans’ state of mind as well. After all, the same salary may mean very different things to the college student elated to land his first professional job and the late-career woman who accepted it for lack of a comparable offer after a daunting spell of unemployment.

One fascinating finding from our Ground Level Survey: a statistically even percentage of urban and rural Minnesotans reported financial progress over the past decade and security today. By their own report, urban and rural Minnesotans weathered the recession in similar fashion.

That’s not the case, however, across the board. Women are considerably less likely than men to report financial improvement. The same holds for those in households with income below $100,000 compared to those with higher incomes. And only a minority of older adults age 55+ feel the decade has paid dividends, unlike younger Minnesotans who are more buoyant in their self-appraisals of personal economic progress. More than 7 in 10 of Minnesota’s older Millennials (age 28-34) say they are better off than a decade ago (when they were age 18-24), topping all age groups.

economic improvement by age graph
Source: MPR News | APM Research Lab 2017 Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans
Source: MPR News | APM Research Lab 2017 Ground Level Survey of Minnesotans

Despite the welcome news that Minnesota’s unemployment rate now stands at a 17-year low and the record highs in the stock market this past year, it’s worth remembering that more than half of adults in Minnesota express some degree of concern about their financial security yet today, and 16 percent feel they’ve sunk in economic quicksand. Politicians would be wise to take heed.

-Andi (@DataANDInfo)

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Investigate all the survey findings with an urban-rural lens in our new brief, “Differences and Common Ground: Urban and Rural Minnesota.”

Read the white paper to explore demographic and geographic differences regarding who feels they are on solid financial ground and who does not.