(The Center Square) – While Minneapolis tops WalletHub’s ranking for best cities for people with disabilities, St. Paul comes in 14th.
WalletHub released its “2022’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities” report on Tuesday. In the report, WalletHub assessed physical and economic challenges of managing a disability by analyzing 34 indicators of disability-friendliness in 182 cities that related to three equally weighted categories: economy, “quality of life” and health care. WalletHub selected the 150 most populated U.S. cities and at least two of the most populated cities in each state.
Minneapolis ranked first in health care and eighth in “quality of life,” but it was 166th in economy. St. Paul placed second in health care, 38th in “quality of life” and 147th in economy. Minneapolis’ overall score was 56.63, while St. Paul’s was 54.26.
The economic metrics that received the highest weights were median earnings for people with disabilities, employment rate for people with disabilities and share of people with disabilities living in poverty.
Minneapolis had among the largest shares in the nation of people with disabilities living in poverty, at 168th lowest. While 86.76% of people with disabilities in Minneapolis are employed, more than one-third, 34.37%, of individuals with disabilities live in poverty in Minneapolis. In St. Paul, 88.75% of people with disabilities are employed while 27.23% live in poverty, the report said. Median earnings for people with disabilities are $21,775 (130th highest) in Minneapolis and $20,883 (144th highest) in St. Paul.
The report gave the cities a point for Minnesota’s Employment First legislation. Minnesota legislators in 2020 added the following Employment First language to Minnesota law. Under state law, disability waiver recipients are first offered the opportunity to work and earn a competitive wage before they’re offered exclusively day services.
“Minnesota’s system of services for people with disabilities is constantly evolving,” DHS Acting Assistant Commissioner Natasha Merz told The Center Square in an emailed statement Wednesday. “Today, we are focused on ensuring people with disabilities can live where they prefer, have the type of employment they want and have opportunities to participate in the community the way they want. While this study recognizes Minneapolis and St. Paul, we know there are supportive communities across Minnesota for people with disabilities.”
The department announced Sept. 16 it’s giving $10.5 million in grants to help employment service providers phase out subminimum wages and support individuals with disabilities to reach their employment goals. It announced $2.9 million in grants Monday to support community engagement and integration and employment of people with disabilities.
WalletHub gave the highest health care metrics weight to percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Minneapolis ranked 31st, with 75.91%, and St. Paul ranked 38th, with 73.36%. Full weights went to cost of doctor visit, share of uninsured population and per capita count of family medicine physicians, occupational therapists and home health aides and personal care aides. The cities ranked 90th for family medicine physicians per capita count (30.79), 29th for occupational therapists count (56.03) and 18th for home health aides and personal care aides count (21.03).
The lowest ranked 10 cities are in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana or North Dakota.