The state of our state: It’s not all sunshine and rainbows

Photo: Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post regarding two studies that ranked Minnesota as one of the least free states in the country. I got an interesting response from a Minnesota resident who strongly disagreed with this characterization of the state.

As a Minnesotan, I think you are very wrong.

Minnesota consistently ranks in top as far as “Best States to Live”, Best Place to Raise a Family”, “A Happy State”, “A Healthy State” and several other categories.

Minnesota has higher taxes but is recognized as one of the best states to live in many categories.

The other states you listed as “more free” don’t have the nationally recognized high reputation as Minnesota and they are not even close.

I lived in Wisconsin and North Dakota, along with Minnesotan,

I left both states back to Minnesota as fast as I could. I have also lived in Washington and California. None of those states have the quality of life that Minnesota.

Some of this is certainly true. As American Experiment has consistently pointed out, Minnesota has higher levels of income compared to most states. Minnnesota also ranks favorably well on some measures of health and well-being. However, these positive attributes belie some weaknesses that could threaten our state’s prosperity. And that is something worth pointing out.

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Minnesota’s future

As I explained in the email that I sent as a reply,

while Minnesota has high levels of income, it has been falling behind on some important metrics in recent years. Our rate of job creation is lower than the national average, and lower than that of most states. The same is true of our per capita income and GDP growth. IRS data continues to show that we keep losing highly skilled, high-income people to other states like Florida. (And no, it’s not just old people who are retiring)

Minnesota is not a good place to live because of our high taxes. Minnesota is a good state to live in spite of these high taxes. And it is, in fact, due to our high taxes that the state’s economy has been lagging behind the rest of the country. Pointing that out should not be so controversial.

Every Minnesotan should be concerned that businesses are less willing to move and invest here compared to other states. We should also be concerned that our economy is falling behind the rest of the country and that we are losing as many people to other states at the rate that we do.

Minnesota has a lot going for it, but our state can also use improvement in a lot of important areas that are fundamental to the state’s well-being. Harboring overly positive sentiments about the state of our state won’t help anyone.