FILE - St. Paul Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

(The Center Square) – A United States Prosperity Index study published by the London-based Legatum Institute think tank ranked Minnesota third nationwide for prosperity. It’s the highest ranking among all Midwest states.

The index uses a comprehensive set of indicators grouped into 48 policy-focused elements to update the prosperity of the 50 states and Washington D.C.

The report aims to act as a framework for governments to identify where it falters and target roughly $6 trillion of federal stimulus money to help states and counties recover and rebuild from the pandemic.

The study aims to provide a framework for policymakers to tackle issues scarring states, including rising obesity, high unemployment, declining social networks and weakening mental health.

Minnesota’s high ranking comes from statistics in 14 key categories.

The state finished in the top five nationally in five categories:

  • Social capital
  • Business environment
  • Living conditions
  • Health
  • Education.

Minnesota’s highest individual ranking was in social capital at number two nationally. That, in turn, was driven by a high ranking in “personal and family relationships.”

Those key relationships ranked as outstanding in having a parent in attendance at children’s activities, a low teen birth rate, enjoying close friends, and “frequently hearing from family and friends.”

The inclusive societies and open economics categories found the state in the top 10. The state ranked top 20 finishes in

  • Safety and security
  • Economic quality
  • Governance
  • Natural environment.

Of concern were the state’s lowest rankings, falling in the middle of the national pack. Those categories were infrastructure and personal freedom.

The personal freedom category “measures progress towards basic legal rights, individual liberties, and social tolerance.” The infrastructure “pillar of prosperity” measures the quality of all the public works that facilitate “trade — from telecommunications and transport to the availability and reliability of resources.”

Minnesota is one of 12 states the Legatum Institute selected to do a county-by-county analysis and ranking.

Carver County finished as the number one county while Pine County finished last at number 87. However, all Minnesota counties finished in the top 40% of counties studied.

The Center Square called Carver County Supervisor Gayle Degler for comment. He was pleased to hear of the county’s number one ranking but was driving and unable to review the details by press time.

Despite the overall low state ranking, Pine County had its own top state finish in one of the major categories, governance. That means the county excels in “political accountability, the rule of law, and government integrity.”

Pine County Board of Commissioners Chair Steve Hallan did not respond to The Center Square’s voicemail message as of press time.