Four affluent rural townships in Scott and Dakota counties form the southern ends of a pair of crescent-shaped Wealth Belts that encircle the inner Twin Cities like a pair of cupped hands.

That’s one lesson of a detailed analysis just issued by the Metropolitan Council of upscale demographics and poverty across the seven-county metro area.

An equally striking one, though, is how much variation can take place within a single community.

Cheek-by-jowl neighborhoods of high incomes and modest incomes exist in a whole swath of suburbs from Savage to Burnsville, Apple ­Valley and beyond.

There’s no substitute for viewing the actual maps, which can be found at

The maps show both citywide averages in several categories and the same things broken down by neighborhood — or technically, “census tracts,” with a median size of 3,800 people. A tract can cover a lot of acreage in a low-density area of Eagan, say, or just a relative sliver of land in a heavily multifamily zone.

Other findings:


Lakeville, Savage and Farmington are among 83 cities and townships with an estimated poverty rate below 5 percent. Elsewhere, others include Edina, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Chanhassen, Woodbury and a host of rural or exurban spots. Higher-poverty suburbs are concentrated in the north metro.

Broken down to tracts, the south metro doesn’t have any of the area’s 28 neighborhoods classed as “extremely high poverty,” 40 percent or more. But Rosemount and West St. Paul do number among suburbs with “poverty areas,” 20 percent or more, of which the metro has 122, mostly in the two central cities.


Some affluent rural townships number among the communities with a fairly elevated rate of “severe housing burden,” 50 percent or more of income going to housing. In Scott County there’s a band of such areas from Louisville Township, near Shakopee, to Spring Lake Township, near Prior Lake, down to New Market Township.

Conversely, very low rates are to be found in places like Savage, Eagan and Credit River Township, a major draw for estate-type acreage housing along Interstate 35.

South of the river doesn’t have as much diversity in that area as do the western suburbs. Council analysts note:

“The western suburbs are particularly diverse with respect to housing cost burden. Brooklyn Park, Minnetonka, Richfield and Robbinsdale all have at least one tract with high rates (at least 25 percent) of severe housing cost burden and at least one tract with low rates (less than 10 percent).”


Tiny, affluent enclave Sunfish Lake has one of the highest rates of college education in the metro, while much of the rural farming belt of both Scott and Dakota has low rates.

Altogether, nearly half of Twin Cities residents have a post-high school degree, a strong showing compared to lots of metro areas. Six cities’ adults are at 70 percent or higher, which rivals some college towns, and they include Sunfish Lake along with Edina, Dellwood, Minne­tonka Beach, North Oaks and Woodland. Pockets within Eagan and Mendota Heights are that high as well.

Conversely, rural townships in Dakota and Scott have rates more comparable to aging or diverse inner-ring suburbs such as Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights and South St. Paul.

The council points to Inver Grove Heights as a place with highly varied education, much like the central cities.


Parts of the southern suburbs are a strong draw for immigrants. Foreign-born residents make up more than 15 percent of those living in Shakopee and nearby Jackson Township. The three most common places of origin for Shakopee were Mexico, India and Vietnam, in contrast to the metro area’s immigration leaders, Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, which have more African-born residents: Those two cities’ top nations are Liberia, Laos and Mexico.