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NATEDOG001976
01-01-2006, 10:19 AM
We’re healthy, honest … and cold
We're healthy, honest and hard-working -- but boy, does our folk-singing need a tuneup.
Dane Smith, Star Tribune
Last update: December 31, 2005 – 10:12 PM
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Minnesotans are the most ranking-obsessed people in the nation.
Well, OK, there isn't actually an official ranking on THAT. But states and cities are ranked on almost anything else you can name -- from milk production per cow, to average wind speed, to the number of books in public libraries. And Minnesotans and their media eagerly keep track of where they stand, and what direction they're moving.

Lately, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, gearing up for a reelection bid, has gone out of his way to tout the state's continued high rankings on quality-of-life measures, something that has been observed for decades. Perhaps those who get good grades tend to place more importance on them than those who don't.

In the interest of preserving Minnesota's possible No. 1 ranking in rankings awareness, the Star Tribune presents this roundup of vital statistics -- and some purely whimsical statistics -- showing where Minnesota stands as 2006 dawns.

HEALTHY

1st These gaudy standings are getting to be routine, but gosh darn it, what's more important than health? We're at the pinnacle in one of the more comprehensive measures published annually by UnitedHealth Group. It factors in about 20 measurements, ranging from personal habits to public health programs to prevalence of cardiac disease and low-birth-weight babies.

Healthiest: Minnesota

Unhealthiest: Mississippi

WEALTHY $$$$

Minnesota is 7th. There may no demographic statistic on which Minnesota has improved more during the past 30 years than per-capita income. We rose from a typical ranking of around 20th to well inside the top 10 over the past few years.

Richest: Connecticut

Poorest: Mississippi

WISE

6th Minnesota typically ranks in the top three (all five Upper Midwest states are near the top) in college entrance scores. But on a more comprehensive set of 21 factors analyzed by Morgan Quitno Press, Minnesota ranks as the sixth smartest state in 2005. That's up from 12th in 2003.

Smartest: Massachusetts

Least smart: Arizona

HONEST

7th Everybody together now: Minnesota's politics are what kind of clean? SQUEAKY clean, has always been the refrain. A 2004 report by the group Corporate Crime Reporter ranked us seventh least corrupt, with an average of 1.11 convictions of public officials per 100,000 population over the previous decade. We've had three or four high-profile convictions since 2004, plus ethical controversies that didn't result in convictions. If we reserve "squeaky" status for the top five, we're just plain clean.

Least corrupt: Nebraska

Most corrupt: Mississippi

WORKING CONDITIONS

3rd On a Work Environment Index calculated by the Political Economy Research Institute, Minnesota is the third best state in which to work, measured by things such as job opportunities, job quality and workplace fairness.

Best workplace: Delaware

Worst workplace: Louisiana

PLAYING CONDITIONS

29th That is, the Metrodome has the third worst playing surface out of 32 NFL stadiums, according to a recent poll of NFL players. Vikings officials believe some players were thinking of the old surface, recently replaced.

Best surface: INVESCO Field, Mile High Stadium, Denver Broncos.

Worst surface: RCA Dome, Indianapolis Colts.

GOOD GOVERNMENT

3rd Although we got a scolding for the prolonged partisan wrangling at the State Capitol in recent years, Minnesota ranked third in the overall performance of its governments (a B-plus, tied with six others) in an annual study by Governing magazine. Highest marks were for money management.

Best governed: Utah and Virginia

Worst governed: California and Oregon

CLOUT IN D.C.

29th Our congressional delegation in Washington was ranked below average in a survey by Roll Call magazine that looked at factors such as seniority of members, committee chairmanships and federal spending per capita.

Most clout: California

Least clout: Nebraska

HOME-OWNING

2nd Minnesota's ranking in the percent of households who own their own homes is often pointed to by governors as a sign of economic health. But get this: Rural West Virginia, with high poverty rates and low incomes, is No. 1, and affluent, urbane New York is No. 50.

Owningest: West Virginia

Rentingest: New York

MOONLIGHTING

9th All kinds of statistics show that we're hard-working and that workforce participation by women is at the top of the heap. We also rank high in the percent of workers who hold more than one job.

Moonlightingist: Nebraska

Sedentariest: Florida

FOLK-SONG TEACHING

42nd Here's something to cry about. We're way behind in the teaching of children's folk songs and patriotic songs by general music teachers.

Most folk-singing: Nebraska

Least folk-singing: California

COW PRODUCTIVITY

26th Uh-oh, warning sign of slippage. We rank fifth in the number of dairy cows and sixth in total milk production, but a disappointing 26th in milk per cow. Our chickens appear to be trying harder. We're 17th in total chickens but seven places higher in egg production.

Hardest-working cows: Washington

Laziest cows: Louisiana

DRINKING

15th Minnesota adults quaff an average of 2.7 gallons of alcohol per year, a bit above the national average of 2.5 gallons, way more than Mormon-dominated Utah, but considerably less than Wisconsin (ranked fourth) at 3.2 gallons.

Imbibingest: New Hampshire

Teetotalingest: Utah

SMOKING

34th About 21.1 percent of Minnesota adults smoke, under the national average of 22.1 percent.

Smokiest: Kentucky

Least smoky: Utah

GREEN-NESS

16th Minnesota has a reputation as a "green," environmentally conscious state, and it shows, according to an Associated Press analysis of industrial pollution data.

Most polluted: Ohio

Least polluted: Vermont

COLD

3rd Only North Dakota has lower annual average temperatures in the continental United States. We're also the eighth wateriest (total surface of inland waters), ninth windiest and the 34th sunniest.

Frostiest: Alaska

Balmiest: Hawaii

TAXES

10th Total state-local taxes amount to about 11.2 percent of total personal income, about 1 percentage point more than the national average, according to the Minnesota Taxpayers Association.

Most taxing: New York

Least taxing: Tennessee

LONG-LIVED

2nd Only the Aloha State has a lower age-adjusted death rate.

Longest-lived: Hawaii

Shortest-lived: Mississippi

COLON CARE

1st Looking for correlations on health excellence, one can't avoid our supremacy in colon care. We were first in the nation in the percent of age 50+ adults who have received a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. But wait -- look who's last.

Most colon-conscious: Us

Least colon-conscious: Hawaii

BEST OF SHOW

2nd Morgan Quitno, a Colorado publisher of state rankings, gave top honors seven times over the last decade to Minnesota as the most livable state overall in a compilation of 44 factors, ranging from voting turnout to the suicide rate. It slipped to second the last two years.

Most livable: New Hampshire

Least livable: Mississippi


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Statistical Abstract of the United States; Morgan Quitno Press; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Healthcare Quality Report; NFL Players Assoc.; Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; Political Economy Research Institute; Corporate Crime Reporter; Marilyn J. Ward, Carthage College.

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