Mean or median income? It matters.
When it comes to Minnesotans’ income, “average” can mean two very different things.
The mean income is calculated by adding up all the household incomes and dividing by the number of households. The median is the value in the middle of the dataset; it represents the exact middle of your population.
Income means are often distorted by a few very high household incomes. In Minnesota, the mean household income is $75,432. The median income is much less at $58,476 — it may be a better measure of income for most of the state.
This matters to anyone seeking to understand how families are faring — and how family situations vary, including by geography. It also matters when it comes to accessibility to higher education. About a quarter of Minnesota college students at public and private institutions, come from families with incomes less than $50,000.
As shown in the chart below, median household incomes in Minnesota counties range from $35,000 to $83,000. Three counties — Washington, Carver and Scott — have median incomes that are greater than the state’s mean income. Together they help push up the mean income for the state.
The following map offers another way of portraying the data.
Median income has remained stagnant over the past decade, if adjusted for inflation — it has decreased by about $10,000 since 2002. These stagnant to weakening wages make it harder for families to save and pay for college.