How prepared are MN Counties to shift workers to remote work?

Roberto Gallardo and Richard Florida recently looked at how prepared US counties were to shift workers to online work…

Our analysis looked at how America’s more than 3,000 counties are able to implement remote work in terms of two key variables—how limited their digital connectivity is (including access to internet and devices) and those that have a higher share of workers employed in industries and occupations least amenable to remote work.

Nearly forty percent of counties had moderate to high vulnerability to remote work (27.7% moderate and 10.6% high vulnerability) compared to more than 60 percent which had lower vulnerability (34.3% low vulnerability, 27.4% of no vulnerability).

The counties that are best positioned for success with remote work are more urban, have larger economies, more educated workers, and higher incomes. Conversely, those that are most vulnerable are smaller, more rural, suffer from high rates of unemployment and have less educated workers.

They sliced and diced the number a variety of ways; one striking table shows the disproportionate percentage of counties that are highly vulnerable and conversely the low percentage of counties that are not vulnerable.

And of course I was interested in how Minnesota counties fared. Turns out no Minnesota counties were listed with High vulnerability. I have listed the low and medium counties below. (If your county isn’t listed you are not listed as vulnerable. Nice job!)


  1. Aitkin
  2. Anoka
  3. Becker
  4. Benton
  5. Brown
  6. Chisago
  7. Clearwater
  8. Cottonwood
  9. Douglas
  10. Faribault
  11. Freeborn
  12. Isanti
  13. Jackson
  14. Kanabec
  15. Kittson
  16. Koochiching
  17. Le Sueur
  18. McLeod
  19. Marshall
  20. Meeker
  21. Morrison
  22. Mower
  23. Nobles
  24. Norman
  25. Pennington
  26. Pope
  27. Red Lake
  28. Redwood
  29. Renville
  30. Sherburne
  31. Sibley
  32. Steele
  33. Traverse
  34. Waseca
  35. Wright

Moderate Vulnerability:

  1. Lake of the Woods
  2. Mahnomen – ranks 87 for access to broadband at speeds of 100/20
  3. Mille Lacs
  4. Pine – ranks 81 for access to broadband at speeds of 100/20
  5. Roseau
  6. Todd – ranks 79 for access to broadband at speeds of 100/20
  7. Wadena
  8. Watonwan

For the “medium” vulnerable counties I also checked with how they ranked with access to broadband at the 2026 speed goals (100/20). Access to broadband is a factor but you can see it’s not the only factor in making a county vulnerable to a pandemic and/or future. There’s also value in creating a culture that uses and assumes broadband access.

This entry was posted in economic development, MN, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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