Urban Dynamics Blog

The Bright Side of the Blight Side of Minneapolis

As we know, the 55411 zip code, which is in Minneapolis’ 5th Ward on the north side of the city, has the most depressed economic system in Minneapolis. It has the highest concentration of condemned and vacant buildings; it has the second highest concentration of foreclosures (the 4th Ward has the most); it has the highest unemployment rate in the city; and it has the second highest crime density in the city (the 3rd Ward has the highest).

But we also know from our previous articles that the 55411 zip code is a subsystem of the Minneapolis system. This means that the 55411 satisfies the (3) systems’ axioms:

  1. A system consists of a set of elements.
  2. Elements in a system interact.
  3. A system has a function, or purpose.

It has a system’s boundary and behavior (how a system’s performance changes over time) for which condemned and vacant buildings, foreclosures, the unemployment rate, and crime are all examples of in this economic system. But how does the systems’ behaviors of educational attainment of the 55411 zip code compare to the educational attainment of Minneapolis?

Do the residents of the 55411 experience greater earnings with greater attainment of education? Is it the case that a person from the north side zip code would earn more with a college degree than a person from the north side without a college degree? Is there a correlation between education and earnings in the 55411 zip code?

Graph 1

As Graph 1 of the Minneapolis system illustrates, there is an obvious increase in wages as a person’s education increases. That is, the odds are good that a person with a high school diploma will make more than a person with less than a high school education; a person with some college will more than likely make more than a person with a high school education; a person with a college degree will more than likely make more than a person without a college degree; and a person with a graduate level education will more than likely make more than a person with only a college degree.

And so the question is, will the 55411 zip code follow this system’s behavior? Indeed it will.

Graph 2

Considering the sensitivity of the marketplace on the north side, this is really remarkable. And despite the number of adverse economic conditions in the 55411 zip code, education is still a game changer. The question is now, would this behavior remain stable during a great recession just like a few years ago? And would Minneapolis policy makers utilize this data?

Indeed there are obvious differences in earnings from educational attainment between the 55411 and Minneapolis. But the fact remains, this is a bright side to blight side of Minneapolis.


Matt Johnson is a blogger/writer for The Systems Scientist and the Urban Dynamics blog. He has also contributed to the Iowa State Daily and Our Black News. Matt has a Bachelor of Science in Systems Science, with focuses in applied mathematics and economic systems, from Iowa State University. 

You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Facebook

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Photo Credit: army.mil






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