Blandin Foundation Rural Pulse – how do Minnesotans feel? How can broadband help?

Every three years, the Blandin Foundation does a scan of how Minnesotans are feeling about the economy, their future and more. This year they surveyed 1,560 people the results are mixed based on where you are and who you are but here are some of the highlights. I’ve chosen one positive statistic from each area they cover in the latest Rural Pulse:

  • Economy
    The percentage (17%) of rural Minnesotans that saw a decrease in household income in the past year is the lowest it has been since 2010.
  • Optimism
    Confidence in community capabilities to address local issues has improved across the rural landscape, reaching an all-time high since 2010. Eighty-two percent of residents agree those in their community work together effectively to face local challenges, up nine percentage points from 2016 findings. Younger residents (ages 18 to 24) demonstrated the most optimism with 93 percent agreeing.
  • Quality of Life
    Rural Minnesotans rank job opportunities, provision of adequate healthcare, opioids and drug abuse, and economic development as the most critical issues facing their community. Urban Minnesotans say having adequate healthcare, jobs, affordable housing, controlling crime, and opioids and drug crises are their top concerns
  • Rural Voice
    Thirty-one percent of urban Minnesotans and 38 percent of rural Minnesotans feel metropolitan needs are more important to elected officials than those of rural communities.
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    Eighty two percent of rural Minnesotans are confident that members of their community are able to stand up to discrimination and hatred, should they see it occur.
  • Migration
    Down from previous years, only 14 percent of rural residents and 16 percent of urban residents do not expect to live in their current community five years from now.
  • Leadership
    Of the rural Minnesotans who have not yet served in a leadership role, half (51%) would consider doing so if asked. Younger residents (ages 18 to 24) would be the most likely to consider this opportunity should it present itself, with seven out of 10 indicating such.

There’s a lot to be positive about. I’ve selected only one negative statistic that I think exemplifies the findings:

  • Economy
    The majority of rural residents with an annual income under $100,000 report their household income remained the same within the past year –or decreased, while those with higher incomes are more likely to have experienced an increase.

There remains a disconnect between rural and urban, men and women, ages and income levels. My question of course is how can an investment in broadband help to level the playingfield of opportunity, provide easier ways for residents to engage with their community especially to meet new people and help addresses issues such as mental health and drug addition?

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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