Minnesotans of color and American Indians are a crucial share of the state’s overall population and its workforce. Increases by the state’s communities of color gave Minnesota a faster population growth rate than all but one Midwestern state from 2000 to 2010. Statewide among all residents, persons of color now account for about 17% of Minnesota’s population, up from just more than 6% in 1990. Already students of color account for more than one in four of the state’s students enrolled in school from the pre-kindergarten level through fifth grade.
Educational achievement has a tremendous impact on the well-being of Minnesotans and on the economic strength of our state. It’s estimated that total personal income in Minnesota would increase by about $4 billion annually if all ethnic and racial groups had the same educational attainment levels and earnings as Whites.
Education has a positive effect on individuals. Unemployment and poverty rates are considerably lower for those with higher educations. And earnings increase as educational attainment increases, with the median annual earnings for U.S. workers who have a bachelor’s degree at a level almost 2.5 times the earnings of workers who did not finish high school, according to Census estimates for 2009.
Researchers Henry Levin and Clive Belfield in 2007 calculated that, on average, a Minnesotan who graduates from high school earns $476,000 more over a lifetime than someone without a high school diploma. The gains include another $252,000 in increased tax revenues and lower expenditures on health, welfare and crime-related issues. Adding up these gains, plus expected impacts on state economic growth and other factors, Levin and Belfield estimate that the total benefits from just high school graduation for a Minnesotan amounts to more than $1 million.