The economic outlook in rural Minnesota has brightened in recent years, though nearly half of residents outside the Twin Cities don't believe there are enough jobs in their communities paying a wage that can support a household.
Nearly one-third of people in rural Minnesota believe the economy is improving, while only 18 percent think it's getting worse, the lowest level since 2000, according to a new survey from the Blandin Foundation.
And belief that there are enough jobs that can support a family is increasing. About 47 percent of respondents said rural Minnesota has enough such jobs, compared with 38 percent in 2013. But another 48 percent said the state's rural areas do not have enough well-paid jobs.
"Nearly half of our state's population lives in rural places, and Rural Pulse results remind us that economic recovery is not yet reaching all Minnesotans," said Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of the Blandin Foundation. "We must press on if we want to be a state that is resilient, healthy and vibrant."
The mood varies considerably by region. People in central and west-central Minnesota are the most bullish about the economy. Those in the northeast, where the iron ore industry has been battered lately, are the least convinced that the economy is improving.
According to the survey, urban residents feel better than rural Minnesotans about the job market, and with good reason.
Of the 142,000 jobs added over the past three years, 112,000 have been added in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and 30,000 in the rest of the state.
The Twin Cities has added jobs nearly twice as fast over that period as the rest of Minnesota.
Average wages in the state rose 4.3 percent over the past 12 months, to $26.97 per hour. That was the largest 12-month rise in a decade.
Across rural Minnesota, men have a brighter outlook on the economy than women, and young people are more optimistic than older workers, especially those nearing retirement.