The Center for Rural Policy and Development recently released their State of Rural Minnesota 2014 presentation. It’s a series of maps that documents by county, change in population, age, diversity and income. Here are a couple of high level take away:
- Counties with access to high education and diverse populations are growing in population, especially a younger population.
- Northeastern Minnesota (from Cook County to Lake of the Woods) is going to have the highest populations of seniors by 2045. (There are a few outliers.)
- Highest incomes were seen around the Twin Cities. (Scott County tops with median income $86,324.)
- Lowest incomes were seen in Central and Northern Minnesota – roughly from Cass County to Lake of the Woods. (Again some outliers.)
- Western Minnesota, most of the counties bordering North Dakota, have seen the greatest decline in population since 1990.
- Project population in Western Minnesota is expected to grow in the next 20 years.
Without going into the numbers – just using broad stroke maps – I thought I’d compare that to Connect Minnesota maps. Well, the download speed map.
On the Connect MN map if you draw a line from the Twin Cities to the Northwest Corner of the state, that’s the digital divide. There are exceptions, but with the map below I won’t go into them. Here are a few observations:
- The Western border had experienced population decline in the last 25 years. The broadband in those areas is pretty good. The population is expecting to grow in the next 20 years. (Of course the oil in North Dakota may be a factor as well – on both population and broadband access.)
- The areas with the lowest median income also have poor broadband speeds.
- The Twin Cities has some of the highest incomes and fastest broadband speeds.
I’m not going to say whether there’s a cause or effect. Access to higher education institutions means access to better broadband. But is that because there’s an anchor tenant and larger population OR does the better broadband entice a larger population. But there are a few sweeping generalizations that can be made.