Staff Directory 6370571

MaryJo Webster

Data Editor | Newsroom
Phone: 612-673-1789

MaryJo Webster is the data editor for the Star Tribune. She teams up with reporters to analyze data for stories across a wide range of topics and beats and also oversees a small team of other data journalists.

Webster is most interested in telling stories that get behind the daily news, give readers a deeper understanding of what's happening around them and hold government agencies and officials accountable. Previously, she worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, USA Today, the Center for Public Integrity, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Oshkosh Northwestern and the New Ulm Journal. She has journalism bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the University of Missouri-Columbia, respectively. Webster is board member for the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI), which is the state's all-volunteer freedom of information council. She is also a senior fellow for the Center for Health Journalism's Data Fellowship program, where she trains and mentors journalists on how to incorporate data into their reporting. She previously taught part-time at the University of Minnesota's journalism school and is a regular panelist and teacher at national journalism conferences and workshops.
Recent content from MaryJo Webster
Ellen Ewald, who worked at the Norwegian Consulate in Minneapolis, successfully sued for pay discrimination. Though Ewald won, she lost career opportu

The gender wage gap continues to plague Minnesota, U.S.

The gender pay gap exists at all income levels, but it widens as women earn more. Race exacerbates the disparity.
Skyrocketing property values and taxes priced Caitlin Benson and her family out of their house. Now renting in Uptown, Benson makes ends meet as a fre

Why Minnesota millennials feel worse off than their parents

The specter of the 2008 recession continues to haunt many millennials, whose income started slow and might not catch up to their parents.
Linsey McMurrin's financial footing feels both inspiring and precarious. She received a big boost in pay, but then her health insurance deemed her ine

The middle class remains elusive for Native Americans in Minnesota

For Native Americans in Minnesota, the economic story of the recent decades is one of tenuous and fragile growth. Native American income was the fastest growing between 2005 and 2019, according to new data, yet no other group remains as likely to fall down the economic ladder.
Saengmany Ratsabout and wife Gao Lee's income growth through the years enabled Lee to quit her job last year and focus solely on developing their coff

Asian Americans have the most income mobility in Minnesota

Asian Minnesotans have higher income mobility rates than not only other racial groups in the state but also Asian Americans in other states.
Da'Kwon Young, an intern at Mortenson, will join the construction company full time next year when he graduates from college. Young said he previously

At one point, Black income grew the fastest of any race in Minnesota, but disparities persist

The 2008 Great Recession hit Black Minnesotans the hardest, and it took them the longest to recover. Such income disproportion concerns Black leaders, state officials and economists who noted half of Black wage earners in the state still don't make enough to live comfortably.
Washington, D.C., and North Dakota have the highest rates of income stagnation in the country. Minnesota takes third place, tied with Maryland and Mas

Minnesotans among least likely to climb income ladder in U.S.

New data shows income stagnation is widespread in America, and Minnesotans are among those least likely to move out of their current bracket. Those who start at the bottom tend to stay at the bottom, and those who start at the top tend to stay at the top.
Gophers basketball players pose for a photo at an NIL meet-and-greet event with fans earlier this month at Williams Arena.

Gophers NIL deals: Social media, women and football lead the way

A review of 272 NIL deals signed by Gophers athletes revealed a few surprises and some findings you could have guessed.
Minnesota's high school graduation rates for 2023 reflect an increase in students whose status was classified as "unknown." But Minneapolis and St. Pa

Reporting errors, missing graduates mar Minnesota grad rate calculations

The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts clarified reporting errors, but the episode points to ongoing needs to better collect and organize student data.
Dominic Papatola unpacks boxes in the office of his new home on Grand Avenue in St. Paul on Jan. 12. Papatola sold the house where he and his wife rai

Middle-income buyers struggle to find a house in their budget in most Twin Cities suburbs

A Star Tribune analysis shows how much income a buyer would need to afford the median priced home in each city.
Real estate agent Jeffrey Dewing secured a sign outside a house he’s selling in Wayzata earlier this month.

Inside the most expensive city in the metro: Wayzata

The most expensive city in the metro on the Star Tribune's Hot Housing Index sold for $394 per square foot last year.
Real estate agent Zack Zehrer checked in on a house he’s selling in Lauderdale. He said half of those interested in the house want to live in the ho

These areas have the most, least expensive starter homes in the Twin Cities

Finding an entry-level home for $300,000 or less in the metro could lead you anywhere from an inner-ring suburb to an exurb to the city itself.
Libby Jacobson and Kyle Staunton walk through their new house with real estate agent Kathy Borys, left, in St. Anthony, the third-hottest city in the

Move-up buyers with disposable income fueled the hottest Twin Cities housing markets

The index analyzed nearly 35,000 home sales and showed that many of the most popular neighborhoods catered to those looking for more space despite higher mortgage rates.
Where does your city rank in the Star Tribune Hot Housing Index?

Where does your city rank in the Star Tribune Hot Housing Index?

With mortgage rates higher than in previous years, move-up buyers drove sales in the Twin Cities in 2023.
Heather West experienced an eviction and homelessness before finding stable housing. She now works with the Stable Housing is the Priority, (SHIP), Co

Twin Cities evictions have spiked again. Can Minnesota solve its housing crisis?

Housing advocates in Hennepin and Ramsey counties are scrambling to help a growing number of tenants facing eviction.
First-grade teacher Elisa Odegard led her students in a morning song at Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville.

Some high-poverty Minnesota schools are beating odds, while others struggle after pandemic

A Star Tribune analysis of test scores shows which schools statewide exceeded expectations.
Which Minnesota schools are doing better than expected? Find them here

Which Minnesota schools are doing better than expected? Find them here

See whether your school's math and reading scores are above what would be expected considering poverty levels.
Fardowsa Bashir sat with her children, Saadiq Dahir, 6, left, Sadri, 2, center, and Anzal, 3, right, as she listened to them read to her in her home i

New census data is the deepest look yet at Minnesota's racial and ethnic diversity

Community leaders and policymakers hope the new detail will help them better serve subgroups.
Torry Beasley chose carefully as he moved through the line at Open Cupboard food bank this past February.

Minnesota household income continues to decline, putting more families in need

Recent data from the American Community Survey show 9.6% of the Minnesota population living below the federal poverty threshold, a slight increase from 2021.
Twins Ellie Long and Abby Long, both 20, like to visit their hometown in the summer, but plan to move away from the Twin Cities.

Minnesota is losing more college students than it attracts, a troubling trend

Snowbirds are not the primary culprits in Minnesota's population losses. For years, it's been college students.
The seniors at Pillars at Prospect Park joined children — their “grand-friends” from the on-site day care — to attend a musical event in the c

Is this the end of Minneapolis and St. Paul population boom?

The urban core swelled in the 2010s, but two new sets of population estimates indicate that growth in the Twin Cities is slowing down.
Mini Jain, left, her wife, Anne Robertson, and their dog Lance at home in Minneapolis.

Minnesotans see first census count of same-sex married couples as sign of acceptance

Before the addition of the new box in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau had a history of altering data reported by same-sex married couples.
A Southwest grad outside 3M Arena at Mariucci after his commencement ceremony ended and before South High School's began last June.

Minnesota's high school grad rates rebounded in 2022. See your school's results

Four-year completion rate nears pre-pandemic high, plus three more takeaways and charts.
New rules created to make baseball faster and more fun add to buzz of Twins opener

New rules created to make baseball faster and more fun add to buzz of Twins opener

When the Twins play their home opener today, much of the ballpark buzz is expected to come from the new rules created to make baseball faster and more fun.
Two Men and a Truck movers Arty Nelson, left, and Jared (DOESN'T WANT LAST NAME USED) carry a couch to the truck Wednesday, March 29, 2023 in Shorevie

Hennepin, Ramsey counties lose residents: 'Ripples' of pandemic

While not as dramatic as during the pandemic, more people are still moving out of the core counties.
Ridership on Metro Transit hasn’t fully recovered since it collapsed in early 2020.

How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Minnesotans' lives

The pandemic caused abrupt and unusual shifts at home, at work, shopping, traveling and more. Life isn't completely back to pre-pandemic normal — and maybe it never will be.
State Demographer Susan Brower said the big differences in economic resources and labor force participation likely remain a problem.

New report shows stark economic inequalities among Minnesota's cultural groups

Key findings relied on survey data collected between 2016 and 2020 and show disparities in homeownership, employment, education levels and individual earnings.
Real estate agent Lydia Kauppi and her showing agent Laura Brenden talked with clients Carrin Baumgartner and Martin McNulty as they toured a home.

Looking for an affordable starter home in the Twin Cities area? Good luck

Years of record price gains have fueled the demise of the $300,000 starter house, making houses in every price range more expensive.
The city of Minneapolis represents just 15% of the urban Twin Cities metro area’s population.

Why didn't Minneapolis gobble up its suburbs?

Annexation once seemed likely. Instead, the Twin Cities became a region of fragmented local governments.
Hamline Elementary in St. Paul held an open house last May, part of its efforts to court families in the neighborhood as it anticipates declining enro

Minnesota's public schools lost students again this year

Charter schools and private schools saw more modest gains in enrollment after a brief pandemic surge.
Top offensive player? Yes. All-time great? Jefferson's stats help answer

Top offensive player? Yes. All-time great? Jefferson's stats help answer

How far along does Justin Jefferson's 2022 season move the chains toward placing him among football's best receivers ever? These five charts from his superb 2022 season offer evidence.
“We didn’t want cookie-cutter suburbia — we wanted a property that felt unique,” said Jessica Brockshus, who recently moved to Lake Elmo with

As homebuyers flock to suburbs, Lake Elmo becomes hottest market in Twin Cities area

The hottest city in the Twin Cities metro area for home buyers last year was also one of the most inconspicuous.
Home buyers seeking more space made several outer-ring suburbs the hottest markets in 2022.

See where your city ranks in the Twin Cities area's hottest housing markets

Home buyers seeking more space made several outer-ring suburbs the hottest markets in 2022.
Apartment evictions spiked in 2022 across Minnesota.

State's eviction filings soared in 2022, continue into new year

Eviction filings remained higher than pre-pandemic levels throughout the last six months of 2022, leaping again in December and showing no signs of letting up in January — a time of year when filings usually drop.
Words can't explain the wild Vikings season, but these 6 charts can

Words can't explain the wild Vikings season, but these 6 charts can

Close wins, big losses and last-minute victories leave skeptics questioning how the team will do in the playoffs
Tracking coronavirus in Minnesota

Tracking coronavirus in Minnesota

See how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota and across the United States.
Sharletta Evans, sitting next to a photo of her son who was killed in a drive-by shooting 27 years ago, speaks with juvenile offenders at a Denver chu

Minnesota's juvenile justice system is broken. Colorado shows how it could be better.

In Minnesota, as in much of the country, alternative approaches to handling youth crimes have been slow to gain public support. But Colorado has overcome these obstacles through a series of hard-won legislative victories and a commitment to measuring outcomes.
The number of people living in Minnesota grew by less than 1% — about 5,700 people — between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the U.S. Census

Minnesota's population growth sees 'concerning' stall for a second year

The U.S. Census Bureau released the new estimates Thursday.
Makeysa Morgan talks to her son Mau’rese, 3, on the phone. Her parents are caring for Mau’rese while she serves a four-year prison sentence after

How extended probation for young Minnesotans can become a 'backdoor to prison'

Extended youth probation was once heralded as an innovative alternative to prison for adolescents who commit violent crimes. Instead, an alarming number end up incarcerated for minor probation offenses.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) caught a deep pass in overtime on Buffalo Bills cornerback Cam Lewis (39) in Orchard Park.,N.Y.

9 charts explain Vikings' stunning turnaround from last season

Last year, the Vikings lost one close game after another. Why are they winning those games this season? The data shows that there are reasons up and down the roster.
The Attorney General’s race by precinct.

6 maps that take a deeper look at Minnesota's election results

From the attorney general race to a razor-thin upset of an incumbent in the Arrowhead, there were a few notable takeaways.
Deddtrease Edwards was 14 when she was sent out of state to a center for troubled youth because of a lack of beds in Minnesota. “My childhood was ro

Minnesota youth most in need of juvenile system help have nowhere to go

As youth detention centers close, Minnesota runs out of places to rehabilitate kids who commit serious crimes.
Finn Paulson, 15, left, took a behind-the-wheel driving lesson from Pete Hosmer of A+ Driving School last month in White Bear Lake.

Minnesotans are 'driving like crazy,' and it's killing people

Motorists surveyed say they are speeding more than ever, at the same time many law enforcement agencies are scaling back or even eliminating speed enforcement as they shift diminished staffs to more pressing law enforcement work.
New state data provides the most substantive look at the toll the pandemic took, but comes with the caveat that participation in the standardized test

Minnesota students' low test scores offer glimpse of pandemic challenges

New state data provides the first substantive look at how the pandemic disrupted learning. Fewer than half of Minnesota students are proficient in math, and reading skills have declined.
Education Commissioner Heather Mueller will hold a news conference Thursday to talk about school accountability measures and test scores.

Minnesota identifies hundreds of schools in need of additional support

More information, including statewide test scores, will be released Thursday.
Debra, left, and her cousin Arriell. Each girl experienced starkly different versions of Minnesota’s juvenile justice system.

Two cousins with diverging fates show promise, failure of youth rehabilitation in Minn.

Each day, Minnesota judges and prosecutors make life-altering decisions about children who break the law. Most kids end up entangled in the county court system, but some youth are offered an alternative, known as diversion. A child's future can hinge on the path that is chosen.
Jon and Karli Neilson with their daughter Parker, 6, in front of their home in St. Paul. They recently discovered the deed to their home contains a ra

Racial covenants found embedded in Ramsey County deeds

The research is far from complete, but the Mapping Prejudice group plans to launch a dialogue about the consequences of racial covenants in Ramsey County as it has in Hennepin County.
A crane lifts a roof section as construction is underway Thursday, May 26, 2022 at Reeve Lakeside Apartments in Robbinsdale, Minn.. New census figures

Did the Twin Cities population grow or shrink during the pandemic?

Two new datasets showing city-level population estimates give quite different results.
A 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident.

Census overcount of Minnesota's population may have aided political win

Data released Thursday helped explain how the state narrowly retained its last congressional seat.

How popular is your first name (or any other) in Minnesota?

Track the popularity of any first name in Minnesota over the past century.
Jennifer Ho, shown in 2018. "Throughout the pandemic, we didn't really come to grips with how many people are a paycheck away [from eviction]," said H

Minnesota eviction filings soared in April

Court filings last month were not only higher than March, but far above pre-pandemic levels.
Relatives gathered in September for a funeral service for Marcoz, 14, one of two teens killed in a crash during a high-speed chase. His mother, Tanya

Minnesota's juvenile justice system failing youth, families, victims

A Star Tribune examination of hundreds of juvenile court records finds that the system is failing to effectively intervene in the lives of Minnesota's most troubled youth, often despite anguished pleas from parents.
The Minnesota Department of Education released graduation data for 2021 Wednesday morning.

Minnesota's graduation rate dipped slightly in 2021, but Black students see gains

State education leaders say the pandemic led the class of 2021 to face unprecedented challenges in crossing the finish line.
A 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident.

Hennepin, Ramsey counties show population declines in 2021

State demographer says early retirements and college disruptions due to COVID-19 played a role.
Xcel Energy’s Sherco coal-fired power plant is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in Minnesota.

These are Minnesota's top greenhouse gas polluters

About 100 facilities in Minnesota generate about 25% of the state's total greenhouse gases.
Nearly all of Minnesota’s 18 ethanol plants are on the list of Minnesota’s Dirty 100 facilities emitting the most greenhouse gases. Shown here is

Ethanol's clean air benefits clouded by greenhouse gas emissions

Corn ethanol's per-gallon carbon output shrinks, but greenhouse gas from plants remains high.
Overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 patients at hospitals this winter delayed patient care and likely contributed to Minnesota’s excess death numbers i

Minn. 2021 death toll well above expected total despite vaccine

More than 5,000 COVID-19 deaths in the state last year account for most of the increase.
Kenley Johnson watched as her brother Benton Johnson shoveled outside her house in the Columbia Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, one of the most affo

Twin Cities homebuyers flocked to these neighborhoods in 2021

The most dynamic neighborhood in Minneapolis for home buyers last year was in the northeast corner of the city, according to the Star Tribune's Hot Housing Index.
Students at Bethune Arts Elementary School in Minneapolis prepared for dismissal at the end of the day in January.

Minnesota public school enrollment drops, but decline is less severe than previous year

Kindergarten enrollment, which fell during the pandemic, has bounced back somewhat.
Minnesota’s political parties are starting to see the battleground districts that will help decide control of the Legislature in the decade to come.

Six takeaways from Minnesota's new redistricting maps

Last week's release of new congressional and legislative maps has shifted Minnesota's electoral landscape.
Julius Menchikov was busy printing and mounting huge copies of Minnesota’s new redistricting map on Tuesday in St. Paul.

Maps show how redistricting reshapes Minnesota's political borders

Every legislative seat is up for re-election in a redistricting year, meaning control of state government is at stake in the fall election.
Jessica Lee was renting a small apartment in Northeast Minneapolis, but with mortgage rates near historic lows she realized it would be cheaper to buy

Where buyers have best odds in Twin Cities area housing market

These communities had the most listings, lowest price increases and least amount of competition, according to a Star Tribune list of the best markets for home buyers.
Luke Kramer and his golden retrievers returned to their property after exploring woods behind their new home in Minnetrista.

Hottest Twin Cities housing markets were far out from cities

The exurbs rose in popularity and price as the pandemic unfolded in 2020, and then they took all 10 hottest spots this past year.
A line of several home shoppers and their real estate agents formed as they waited to view a home for sale in March 2021.

Exurbs rise to the top in ranking of Twin Cities area's hottest housing markets

Space and lower prices helped cities on the edge climb to the top of the Star Tribune's latest Hot Housing Index.
An election judge looked over a blank test ballot at the Elections and Voter Services Office in Minneapolis.

For 19% of Mpls. voters, Frey was the only mayoral choice ranked

New data released after votes were certified offers a deeper look at how voters ranked the mayoral candidates - and why a campaign urging people not to rank the incumbent mayor ultimately lost.

Minnesota student math, reading scores drop in pandemic year

More than 20% of eligible students did not take statewide tests.
Noelle Fries, left, and Galen Biel, both of Minneapolis, attended a 2019 rally at the Minnesota Capitol to kick off a year-long drive to try to ensure

5 takeaways from the 2020 census data for Minnesota

Interesting things we're seeing in the 2020 census data released Thursday.
The suburb of Prior Lake features large homes abutting golf courses and lakes. Photo by Mark Vancleave.

How Twin Cities housing rules keep the metro segregated

Decades of zoning policies that prioritize single-family homes have perpetuated more racially explicit discrimination.

Minnesota legislators aim to spur creation of more entry-level housing

Proposed bill follows Star Tribune report examining zoning restrictions.
The racial homeownership gap in the Twin Cities is the highest in the nation and has only widened over the past two decades.

Homeownership gap in the Twin Cities is highest in the nation

A surge in single-family rentals in Hennepin and Ramsey counties is eliminating options for minority and low-income buyers.

Minnesota's public school enrollment drops 2% as parents explore pandemic options

Enrollment is down by 2% statewide, with bigger drops in kindergarten and the other early grades.
An ambulance from North Memorial drops off a patient at North Ridge Health and Rehab. Michael and Kathy Johnson felt lucky to be alive when they moved

COVID-19 fuels highest annual Minnesota death count

Increases in all causes of mortality in Minnesota in 2020 refute claims that pandemic only killed people who already were going to die.
Ted Vig received a $7,500 grant from the St. Paul Bridge Fund which he and his wife used to cover COVID-related losses before their  guitar shop o

Inequities persist in St. Paul and Ramsey County COVID relief

Despite efforts to be fair, some historically underserved areas of the capital city still came out behind as $12.7 million in emergency funds were given out.
Bidding wars were the norm and prices rose to record highs, forcing buyers to several far-flung suburbs.

What were the hottest housing markets in the Twin Cities metro area?

With mortgage rates falling to record lows and a pandemic upending how and where people want to live, sales exceeded new listings throughout much of the metro. Find out how your community fared in our searchable Hot Housing Index for 2020.
Washington Avenue in Minneapolis.

Young and social North Loop sees rapid rise in COVID cases

The Minneapolis neighborhood has the city's third highest growth rate in new coronavirus cases, which tracks with the large number of young adults who live there and were more likely to socialize and dine out.
A Minneapolis police officer talked with a member of the Minnesota National Guard in downtown Minneapolis after a night of looting in August.

Minneapolis police overtime in 2 weeks after Floyd death: $3.3M

Costs associated with the summer unrest doubled the Minneapolis Police Department's allotted overtime budget for 2020.