Dodge is one of state's most income equitable counties

At a time when income inequality is a growing concern, Dodge County has among the smallest gap between rich and poor.

In a ranking of income inequality in Minnesota's 87 counties, Dodge came in third lowest, according to a report from Growth & Justice, a progressive research and advocacy organization called "Widening Inequality in Minnesota: A County-by-County Analysis."

In the state's counties, economic inequality is high where income is low, and inequality is low where income is high, the report says.

"While it's well-known that Twin Cities area income levels are higher than in Greater Minnesota, this report shows that poverty and inequality are highest in the two urban core counties of Hennepin and Ramsey, and in the most rural counties of northern and southern Minnesota," the report says. "In contrast, many outer suburban and exurban counties enjoy high income levels, low rates of poverty and relatively low measures of inequality."

"Exurban" refers to communities lying just beyond the suburbs of a metropolitan area.


Still, median income and inequality has worsened in Minnesota since 1999, even though conditions here are generally better than in the rest of the county, the report says.

"It is no longer seriously disputed that income and wealth inequality in the U.S. has been rising dramatically since 1980 after falling just as dramatically from the 1930s through the 1970s," the report says.

Dodge and Olmsted had among the state's highest median incomes in 2012 — Dodge was eighth highest, at $66,959, and Olmsted was ninth, at $66,667.

The similarities end there, though. Dodge was the third most equitable county in the state, same as it was in 1999. Olmsted's inequality worsened, from 51st in 1999 to 70th in 2012.

"In 2012, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Duluth were all in counties with Gini coefficients in the highest (most unequal) category," the report says. "Gini coefficient" measures income distribution and is commonly used to point out income inequality.

Winona was the only other southeastern Minnesota county with more inequality than Olmsted, ranking 74th in the state.

Still, all eight southeastern counties had lower Gini coefficients than the statewide average, meaning their income inequality was not as bad as the state average.

Seven of the eight southeastern Minnesota counties saw their inequality worsen from 1999 to 2012, with Mower being the only exception.


Sherburne County, near St. Cloud, was the top ranked county in the state, meaning it had the least inequality, while the lowest ranked and most unequal was Hennepin, where Minneapolis is.

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