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Minnesota family income rate falls, slips closer to national average

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Minnesota has been the subject of some upbeat economic news lately, with positive reports on jobs and housing.

But there are often cloudier stories hiding in the statistics. Here's one: Minnesota’s median household income is falling, and while it still ranks higher than the national average, the gap is shrinking, according to a new analysis by Minnesota 2020.

The report by the group, which describes itself as a "progressive, new media, non-partisan think tank," notes that in 2000, Minnesota median household income was $65,560, compared to the national median of $55,987.

By 2010, the state rate fell by $7,216 (11 percent), while the national median dipped just $3,302 (5.9 percent).

A couple of other interesting notes from the report:

– The decline in median income for both Minnesota and the nation began before the Great Recession, stemming from complex factors that include globalization, automation, and deterioration in collective bargaining rights, a trend that won't go away just because the recession is over.

– Roughly the same rate of decline is evident in seven Minnesota regions, with the highest incomes in the metro, central and southern parts of the state. The lowest median incomes were in the southwest, Northland and northwest. Check out the chart showing income declines by region here.

Any positive news here? There's this: 2010 seemed to mark a tiny turnaround – From 2010 to 2012, Minnesota’s median household income increased by $484 (0.8 percent), while nationally it fell by another $1,314 (2.5 percent).

Other reports have shown Minnesota still remains in a lot better shape than other states – it was No. 2 in overall one strength rating.

Among the recent headlines in Minnesota economic news: The state has among the lowest number of foreclosures; year-end housing prices were up in the metro; and post-recession job recovery has been uneven among Minnesota cities, although the state jobless rate remains well below the national average.

Yet another recent report noted that the rise from poverty to wealth happens more in Minnesota than in other states.

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Minnesota's median household income held steady in 2011 at about $57,000 compared with the year before, after several years of decline, the Pioneer Press reported, citing new Census data. It was aided in part by a small improvement in the employment rate, the newspaper says.