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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. 


Webster has journalism degrees from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Recent content from MaryJo Webster
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.
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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 was named commissioner of the Housing Finance Agency by Governor-elect Tim Walz at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on December 18, 2

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 Minneapolis, but with mortgage rates near historic lows, she realized it would be cheaper to buy. She is

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 Department of Education Commissioner Heather Mueller spoke at a news conference in May. AARON LAVINSKY • aaron.lavinsky@startribune.com

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 Twin Cities suburb of Prior Lake

How Twin Cities housing rules keep the metro segregated

Decades of zoning policies that prioritize single-family homes have perpetuated more racially explicit discrimination.
The suburb of Prior Lake features large homes abutting golf courses and lakes. MARK VANCLEAVE • STAR TRIBUNE

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

Proposed bill follows Star Tribune report examining zoning restrictions.
Tracking coronavirus in Minnesota

Tracking coronavirus in Minnesota

See how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota and across the United States.
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.
In this file photo, kindergartners at South Ridge School in Culver, Minn., lined up in their winter clothes before going outside to play during recess

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 dropped off a patient last year at North Ridge Health and Rehab in New Hope.

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.
Every police-involved death in Minnesota since 2000

Every police-involved death in Minnesota since 2000

The Star Tribune collected the names and stories of everyone who died after a physical confrontation with law enforcement in Minnesota since January 2000, and continues to update this database as new incidents occur.
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.
In Minneapolis and the U.S., homicides have increased 15% this year. Above, police investigated an Aug. 14 death.

New look shows violent crime's spread across Mpls. this summer

The surge in violent crime this summer included more prosperous neighborhoods that typically experience few such incidents while continuing to exact the heaviest toll in the city's poor areas, according to a Star Tribune analysis of police statistics.
Children arrive for classes at Forest View Elementary, where social distancing is enforced. Kids are back to school. Sort of. In what could be a previ

How COVID-19 case rates will affect each Minn. school district's reopening plan

The state's Safe Learning Plan relies on many variables.
The entire Johnson-Nixon family in Minneapolis caught the virus: from left, dad Charles and mom Kirstin were sick in bed; Raphael and Judah, both 13,

People of color hit harder by COVID-19 in Twin Cities, data confirm

Black and Hispanic Minnesotans are far more likely to be infected than white Minnesotans, state data show.
Julez Wagner was photographed in St. Louis Park, Minn., on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. This week she graduated high school from BlueSky Online where she

Minnesota's online schools attract interest amid pandemic

State concerned about online charter schools' math scores.
Minnesota has purchased the Bix Produce Co.’s former cold storage facility in St. Paul to use as a temporary morgue, bracing for a peak in COVID-19

Pandemic leads to 20% increase in overall deaths in Minnesota

In just seven weeks, the additional fatalities have cut into generations and communities, especially the elderly and people of color.
Tawnya Heino tried to connect to the internet for a Zoom call with her son's teacher at the end of their driveway in Chisholm, MN on Monday morning. T

Minnesota parents tell us what they really think of online learning

We asked parents to fill out a survey about how K-12 online learning is going as a result of the pandemic. Comments ranged from intense enthusiasm and gratitude for what teachers have done to immense frustration.
Tawnya Heino held up her son, Michael Zakrajshek's, phone so he could have a Zoom call with his teacher at the end of their driveway in Chisholm, Minn

Minnesota parents, educators stress need to maintain personal connection with students

A Star Tribune survey of parents shows that the more frequent the live video sessions between staff and students, the greater their satisfaction with their children's learning.
Miguel Leandro Stevens worked on a conversational exercise during an ESL class at Centennial Elementary School in Richfield, Minn., on Tuesday, May 7,

Minnesota schools will have to detail how they spend aid for struggling students

Legislative Auditor's Office says more disclosure is needed for aid intended to shrink achievement gap.
Laura Stand muestra a sus alumnos cómo rugir como parte de una lección de aprendizaje que está creando el lunes 30 de marzo de 2020. Stand es maest

Minnesota, how is remote learning going for your family?

Do you have children between kindergarten and 12th grade participating in online learning through their Minnesota school during this stay-at-home order period? We’d like to…
A police vehicle on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis in March.

COVID-related reforms bring cautious optimism from Twin Cities activists

The novel coronavirus has already seriously disrupted police and court systems in the Twin Cities, as elsewhere.
In this Tuesday, March 24, 2020 photo, a sign at a middle school in Orlando, Fla., reminds residents that April First is census day. The coronavirus h

On Census Day, about 44% of Minn. households have said: We're here

Officials hope more Minnesotans will complete the form online.
Tecara Ayler rested her head on the shoulder of Patricia Grant after a June 1, 2018, meeting with Mayor Jacob Frey to resolve housing issues with thei

Minnesota eviction numbers see dramatic decline in past decade

The number statewide has dropped 33% since the foreclosure crisis.
Police spokesman Garrett Parten said criminal activity has increased in recent years in the areas surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium, concentrated primaril

Downtown East leads Mpls. neighborhoods in crime increase

The area, also known as East Town, was part of the nearly two-thirds of the city's 81 neighborhoods that saw an increase in overall crime in 2019, from the previous four-year average.
Matt and Shannon Riebow’s new house is in Lino Lakes. They wanted to stay in Circle Pines but couldn’t find a suitable larger house.

Once-obscure suburbs are the new hot housing markets

First-time buyers and baby boomers are getting priced out of newer, more expensive suburbs and popular urban neighborhoods.
People stood in the back of the room when an overflow crowd attended the Minneapolis School Board meeting in Minneapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Many

How Minneapolis might reshape its school district

Minneapolis has released five proposals to shift schools and students around the district.
St. Paul police investigated a fatal shooting in a car on Wayzata St. just east of Rice St. in November.

Violent crime dropped in St. Paul last year, despite record gun deaths

A Star Tribune analysis of newly released police data shows that while homicides soared in 2019, reports of aggravated assaults, rapes and robberies decreased, contributing to a reduction in overall violent crime.
Interviews went on at multiple tables during a recent Minnesota State Job Fair.

Minnesotans' income grew faster than inflation last year, while inequality expanded slightly

Latest Census survey shows more effects from retiring baby boomers.
Fifth graders worked on multiplication workbooks in 2013. In some districts, leaders say they are trying to do more to show both parents and students

More Minnesota students opt out of state tests, create a dilemma

Around the state, the rate of students choosing to bypass the state's largest standardized exams has risen steadily for more than a decade.
Racial covenants and unequal lending practices helped create a persistent racial gap in homeownership in Minnesota.

How did Minn. become one of the most racially inequitable states?

By almost any measurement, Minnesota is plagued by racial disparities — in unemployment, in poverty, in homeownership. Readers want to know what's behind the inequities.
Which Minnesota schools are scoring better than expected?

Which Minnesota schools are scoring better than expected?

A Star Tribune analysis of standardized math and reading test scores can determine whether schools are doing better than their demographics would suggest. Look up whether your school made the cut.
How much basic skills aid is your district getting to fight the achievement gap?

How much basic skills aid is your district getting to fight the achievement gap?

Nahomy Gonzalez Rivas and Aileen Garcia Romano worked on a conversational assignment during an ESL class at Centennial Elementary School in Richfield.

2019: $600M a year to fight Minnesota's achievement gap, yet it persists

It's tricky to track where the aid to schools is going – and whether it's working.
Anoka High teacher Paul Heida helped sophomore Ebony Elliott, bottom right, with illustration software during yearbook class Tuesday. Last year, state

Minnesota graduation rate hits all-time high; racial gap narrows

More than 83 percent of students graduated on time, with some progress in narrowing the achievement gap.
Twenty years ago, an auto-immune disease caused Beth Ehresman, right, to have massive heart failure and now she is living on disability. She lives at

As rents rise in the Twin Cities, suburbs embrace affordable housing efforts

With rents rising across the metro, cities find stable options to help, and keep, tenants.
Rambo Islas, 8 months, is held by his mother Maria Islas, as he gets a shot for a vaccine administered by RN, Nicole Ives at the Dallas County Health

Look up vaccination rates at more than 2,900 Minnesota schools and day cares

Hundreds of Minnesota schools and child care centers face an increased risk of measles outbreaks because not enough of their students have been vaccinated.
Linsey Rippy’s daughters, Madi, 12, and Sydney, 9, have both had heart transplants. The girls take anti-rejection drugs that sap their ability to fi

With fewer kids vaccinated, more Minn. schools vulnerable

"Herd immunity" is lost in one-third of state schools, several of which have had chickenpox outbreaks since 2017. That's the same year unvaccinated children helped drive a measles outbreak.
“You’re dealing with physical evidence, emotion, trauma. This is more than going to a burglary," Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer said.

Police undertrained and overwhelmed by rape cases in Minnesota

Inadequate training for police who investigate sexual assaults, along with poor staffing and high turnover, plagues many police departments across the state – resulting in fewer charges against suspected offenders.
Minnesota defines consent as voluntary, but its exceptions for being too drunk to agree to sex are narrow.

How alcohol foils rape investigations

Police are less likely to interview witnesses, assign cases to a detective or forward them to a prosecutor if the victim was drinking, according to a Star Tribune analysis. When cases involving alcohol do reach prosecutors, suspects are much less likely to be charged with a crime or convicted.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

When rape is reported in Minnesota and nothing happens

A Star Tribune examination of more than 1,000 recent sexual assault cases shows pervasive failings by law enforcement — neglecting to interview witnesses, collect crucial evidence, or conduct criminal background checks on suspects. Many cases were never even assigned to an investigator.
Hoping others receive justice they were denied led many women to add their voices to the series investigating failed rape investigations.

When rape is reported and something happens

As dozens more women have stepped forward to tell their stories, reforms are underway in Minnesota. Victim advocates and rape survivors say they are heartened by the pledges of reform by police leaders, prosecutors and lawmakers.
When detective Justin Boardman realized he was failing sex assault victims, he decided to change — himself and his entire department in Utah.

A better way to investigate rape

Utah's shift is a promising sign of how a state can do more to help rape victims get the justice that so often eludes them — if everyone involved is working with the same priorities.
Survivors Rachel Radford, left, and Emma Top each knew their assailant and saw him sentenced, but both came away feeling the punishment was not severe

Convicted for rape in Minnesota, free from prison time

Felons spend less time in prison in Minnesota, and the state says that's by design.
Apple Valley High School social studies teacher Dennis Draughn helped seniors students prepare for their upcoming AP psychology final during a study h

Schools struggle with widening student and teacher racial gap

Minnesota's student body is rapidly becoming more diverse, while the teaching force remains mostly white.
Alesha Erickson was photographed in her apartment Sept. 21, 2018 in Mountain Iron, Minn. She was raped in a different unit in the building and moved t

Special Report: A victim heard, justice served

Many sexual assault reports in Minnesota are poorly investigated. Most don't result in charges or convictions. This one was different.
Bradley Traaseth asked authorities multiple times to file charges against the men suspected of raping his daughter, Hannah. He was unsuccessful.

Minnesota rape cases: Rejected by the prosecution

In Minnesota, half of sex assault cases police send to prosecutors never result in charges. Prosecutors reject cases that include DNA evidence, witnesses, and sometimes even confessions, records show.
Federal law is forcing health insurers next year to eliminate Medicare Cost plans across 66 counties in Minnesota.

Insurers target seniors with shifting Medicare options

New plans in mix as more than 300,000 Minnesota seniors seek new coverage.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. More than 480 struggling Minnesota schools are set to get additional help fro

Minnesota has new benchmarks for schools, IDs 485 for help

New accountability system is designed to give better picture of overall performances.
STEM teachers like Doug Mead, who teaches physics and chemistry, often make far less in the classroom than they could in the private sector.

Twin Cities STEM teachers are facing pay challenges

A Star Tribune analysis reveals that Twin Cities STEM teachers make less than many other kinds of teachers.
Tim Bildsoe led the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, during a vote in 2017. “Everything is on the table,” Bildsoe said in an int

Minnesota police board promises steps to improve sex assault investigations

POST Board will prepare officer training standards and a model policy for sex assault investigations.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

Frey pledges 'care and compassion' for sex assault victims

Minneapolis mayor was responding to a report showing chronic failings in sex assault investigations in Minnesota.
After Chris Iles and his wife, Tinen, bought a bigger house, they rented out their Minneapolis bungalow.

No houses available to buy in Twin Cities? Blame rentals

More owners of affordable homes rent them out rather than offer them for sale.
2017's most popular baby names: How popular is yours?

2017's most popular baby names: How popular is yours?

Whether you favor perennial favorites or trendier names, see how popular they've been in 2017 -- and in all the years going back to 1910.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty greeted supporters during his first public appearance after entering the race to seek a historic third term. He answered ques

Pawlenty laps GOP field with $1M in 3 weeks of fundraising

Tim Pawlenty has the money and name recognition to skip an unpredictable GOP endorsement convention and head straight to the primary.