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Minnesota ranks fourth-best state to raise a family

(The Center Square) – Minnesota is the fourth best U.S. state to raise a family, according to WalletHub’s 2022 Best & Worst States to Raise a Family report.

The Jan. 10 report analyzed 51 indicators. The North Star state’s total score was 58.79, following Massachusetts (65.21), New York (61.81), and Vermont (59.15). It has the sixth-highest share of families with young children (44.22%).

Minnesota has the highest median family income ($87,723), adjusted for cost of living, and second-lowest percentage of families in poverty (5.9%), the report found. Minnesota ranked ninth for both the health and safety category and the affordability category. It placed 22nd for education and child care, and 13th for family fun. It has the 13th lowest underemployment rate (10.40%) and the lowest unemployment rate in the country, although the report did not indicate how many people have left the workforce.

Minnesota ranks ninth for day care quality and has the 12th highest quality of public schools. However, Minnesota’s public high school graduation rate is the 36th highest in the nation (83.7%), and it ranks near the bottom for share of people who save money for their children’s college education (42nd, 32.24%).

Participation of children aged 6 to 17 who participate in school extracurricular activities or volunteer work are about average (28th/78.5% and 29th/40.3%, respectively).

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Child and Family Studies Professor and Director of the Parenting Education Lab Heidi Stolz said in the report that while there are communities in every state that can serve children’s futures well, states have different cultures.

“And from those cultures, differing family policies have emerged,” she said. “For example, states like New Hampshire, Vermont, and Minnesota do a better job of making resources known to impact child and family well-being more widely available to their residents.”

While states can invest in education and other family friendly resources to attract young families, that’s not the real issue, she said.

“Those families presumably have enough of their basic needs met that they can choose their location,” she said. “The real issue is providing high-quality building blocks to the families who already reside in the state, and particularly to those who were not able to select a resource-rich community.”

State University of New York and Oneonta Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Theresa J. Russo said families need to consider the quality and accessibility of health care, educational systems, and other community services in deciding where to live.

“Do they have access to quality primary care and a range of specialty medical services if needed?” she said. “What types of schools are available in the community and is the public school system adequately funded and meeting the state and federal performance standards? Often the cost of housing and property taxes in a community reflects the quality of the schools and, unfortunately, many families cannot afford to live in communities with higher-quality schools.”

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