The Atlantic hails 'The Miracle of Minneapolis' – but is Twin Cities praise justified?


It's getting to the point where we may have to rename the city "Millennial-apolis."

The Twin Cities have been getting a lot of national attention recently for its appeal to the current generation of young adults, not least because it is the most affordable of the country's five major metro areas in which to live, according to Vox.

Jumping on the Minnesota love-in this week is The Atlantic, which has dubbed the Twin Cities' growing appeal "The Miracle of Minneapolis," praising its mix of affordability, opportunity and wealth.

Credit where credit's due

The article highlights the metro area's attraction to under-35s, with one of the nation's highest college graduation rates, highest median earnings and low poverty rates, as well as the "highest employment rate for 18- to 34-year-olds in the country."

Other factors helping the Twin Cities make noise on a national scale include its ability to create and keep large national companies (with 19 Fortune 500 companies located in the metro area), as well as its distance from other major cities ensuring it has the pick of the talent from a wide area.

The metro area's economy has recovered from the economic crisis at a faster rate than the majority of other states, and its appeal to millennials is aided by relatively low property prices and the continued growth of the high-tech industry, as reported by the Star Tribune.

But MPR notes the article somewhat glosses over the issues relating to financial and racial disparities within the Twin Cities area.

Is is glossing over the wealth gap?

If you read the article, The Atlantic contends that changes implemented in the 1970s saw metro area local governments start to contribute money to a regional pool designed to help the area's poorest communities, which has helped ensure the wealth is spread across all sectors of society.

Yet, just last month, a study into financial inequality by WalletHub found Minnesota had the highest wealth gap between white and black or Hispanic communities in the entire United States, ranking 51st out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

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It also found there was a consistently large gap in home ownership levels between the white and black communities in Minnesota, and a similarly large gap between white and Hispanic people when it comes to educational attainment.

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Housing disparities

The article is also full of praise for historic efforts to ensure that low-income housing units have been spread around the city, following a concerted effort in the 1970s and 80s.

To be fair, the article does concede that these efforts have diminished more recently, but without going into any further detail.

It comes after the City of Minneapolis was criticized by council president Barbara Johnson for concentrating a third of the city's Section 8 low-income housing in North Minneapolis, despite it having "one-seventh of the population of the city."

Finally, The Atlantic found Minneapolis has a tendency to retain its college-educated, managerial level workers, noting it had the "second-lowest outflow" among America's 25 largest cities that proves the adage: "It’s really hard to get people to move to Minneapolis, and it’s impossible to get them to leave."

Yet despite the Twin Cities being an apparently haven for millennials, the Minnesota State Demographic Center recently found that Minnesota loses more residents than it gains – particularly among college-age adults – with the rising population in the state being driven by immigrants, not Americans.

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