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Data: It's easier to rise out of poverty in Minnesota

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There are lots of ways to measure a state's economic health. One method – the focus of a new study – is to measure how likely it is that low-income families can pull themselves into the middle class.

Harvard and University of California-Berkeley researchers set out to measure just that in various regions of every state in the nation. To get there, they studied various earnings data.

How does Minnesota fare? Better than many other states, especially those in the South, but not nearly as well as its oil-boom neighbor North Dakota, the study finds.

The New York Times has created an easy-to-use interactive that shows areas around the state of Minnesota vary somewhat widely in the likelihood that someone could rise to another income level. The interactive measures the chance a child raised in the bottom fifth income bracket could rise to the top fifth, and the data suggest that the highest chances of moving up are in far southwestern Minnesota (18.4 percent chance), and the least likely spot in the state for upward mobility is in the Minneapolis area (9 percent).

Minneapolis compares favorably to some other cities – Atlanta (4 percent), Chicago (6.1 percent). And it fares worse than others: San Francisco (11.2 percent), Boston (9.8 percent), New York (9.7 percent), Los Angeles (9.6 percent).

“Where you grow up matters,” Harvard economist and one of the study authors Nathaniel Hendren told the Times.

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