The Best Cities for Working Women in Minnesota

When SmartAsset analyzed the best places for women to work in the US, Minnesota stood out as one of the best states. Many places in Minnesota have a high percentage of women in the workforce, and these women have high incomes. For that reason, we decided to dig deeper into the Minnesota data to see which cities are great for working women in the North Star State.

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To find the best cities for working women in Minnesota, we looked at data on six different factors. We looked at the percentage of women in the labor force, average women’s income, wage gap, women’s unemployment rate, average total rent, and housing costs as a percentage of average household income. Check out our data and methodology below to see where we get it from and how we put it together.

Main discovery

  • Twin City suburbs – The six cities in our top 10 are the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. It looks like residents of our top 10 cities are heading to Minneapolis-St. Paul area for work.
  • Healthcare sector In Minnesota, women tend to dominate the healthcare sector. In some of the top cities, women make up more than 80% of the healthcare workforce.

1. Sartell, Minnesota

Sartell leads the way for women to work in Minnesota. This city has the lowest unemployment rate for women in the study. Only 1.2% of women in Sartell looking for work are unemployed. Just under 88% of working-age women in Sartell are in the workforce, the highest proportion in the study.

One area where Sartell can improve is the representation of women in STEM fields. As we’ve shown in the past, STEM jobs tend to be the highest paying, but women in Sartell are underrepresented in STEM jobs. Census data shows that women make up just 9.4% of computer, engineering and scientific occupations in the city.

2. Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester is famous for being home to the Mayo Clinic. So it’s no surprise that Rochester is one of the best cities for working women in Minnesota, as women have traditionally done well in healthcare. Women make up 65% of technical and medical occupations, making them one of the most popular occupational groups in the city. The wage gap in Rochester is also relatively small. Women in Rochester earn about 81% of what men earn.

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Most homes in Rochester are also affordable. Data from the Census shows that the average cost of housing only accounts for 18 percent of median household income. That was the fifth lowest rate in the study. The median rent in Rochester is just $981.

3. Ham Lake, Minnesota

Known as “convenient country life,” Ham Lake is a great city for working women looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a larger city. Women in Ham Lake are paid fairly well. The median income for women living in Ham Lake is $38,891, higher than both Sartell and Rochester, the cities ranked first and second overall.

The reason Ham Lake dropped to third is that it seems women here should earn more. Despite being relatively well paid, one could argue that the 71.6% pay gap in Ham Lake suggests that women are actually underpaid.

4. Farmington, Minnesota

Like Rochester before it, many of the women in Farmington work in the healthcare industry. Women make up 83% of health care support occupations and 94% of technical and medical occupations. Farmington also has the third-highest female labor force participation rate. Over 86% of women aged 20 to 64 are in the workforce.

However, Farmington has the second-highest pay gap in the top 10. On average, women here only make 69% of what men do. One explanation for this is that women in Farmington working in health care can be relatively underpaid, while men predominate in well-paying STEM jobs. Data from the Census shows that women make up only 22% of computer, engineering and science occupations in Farmington.

5. Eagle, Minnesota

Women in Eagan are the fourth highest paid in the top 10 and our 13th highest paid overall, earning just over $40,000 per year on average. That income would come in handy as Eagan ranked 46th in our study for median rents. On average, renters earn over $1,274 per month. But when we look at monthly income and housing costs together, the picture looks a little brighter. Census data shows that households here spend an average of 18% of their income on housing. That’s the 12th lowest rate in the country.

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One possible reason housing costs are so low is low mortgage rates in Minnesota.

6. Lake Lino, Minnesota

Lino Lakes is a suburb of the Twin Cities, dominated by the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. The region makes the list of best cities for working women in part due to unemployment and labor force participation rates. Over 85% of working-age women participate in the labor force and only 3.2% of them are unemployed.

One downside to the Lino Lakes record, however, is the fact that women earn on average only 65% ​​of what men earn. That’s the worst pay gap in the top 10.

7. Park St. Louis, Minnesota

Park St. Louis is a prominent suburb just west of Minneapolis. Women here tend to be well paid. The average woman earns more than $41,000 per year, which is 80% of what the average man earns. For both of those metrics, St. Louis Park ranks in the top 15. St. Louis Park also ranks well in terms of women’s labor force participation rate, with more than 87% of working-age women entering the workforce. That’s the second highest rate in the top 10 and the third highest rate in the study.

8. Chaska, Minnesota

Chaska can thank the low unemployment rate for women in eighth place. About 2.6% of women are unemployed here. It scored third in the top 10 and fifth in the study for that metric. Chaska also scores fairly well for women’s labor force participation and average housing costs as a percentage of median household income.

9. Golden Valley, Minnesota

Golden Valley is a suburb of Minneapolis and is known for being the headquarters of General Mills and Pentair. The average woman in the Golden Valley earns more than $46,000 per year. That’s the highest percentage in the top 10.

Census data shows that women make up the majority of the healthcare sector, similar to other Minnesota cities, but they also have slightly higher-than-average employment rates in STEM and manage. For example, women make up 48% of management occupations in the city and just under 30% of computer, engineering and scientific occupations.

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10. Oakdale, Minnesota

Our list of the best cities for working women in Minnesota ends in Oakdale, an eastern suburb of St. Paul. Oakdale has just taken 10th place, leaving Crystal by less than a point in our stat. Oakdale scores fairly well on several indicators including women’s unemployment rate and women’s labor force participation rate. For both of these metrics, Oakdale makes the top 15.

One area that needs improvement is the pay gap. Women here only make 73.9% of what men make.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities for working women in Minnesota, SmartAsset looked at data from 69 Minnesota cities with populations over 15,000. Specifically, we looked at data in the following six factors:

  • Average annual income of women. Data taken from the US Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey
  • Pay the difference. This is the average income of women as a percentage of the average income of men. Data taken from the US Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Unemployment rate of women. This is the percentage of women who are looking for work but are currently unemployed. Data taken from the US Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Labor force participation rate of women. This is the percentage of women between the ages of 20 and 64 participating in the labor force. Data taken from the Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Average total rent. Data taken from the Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey.
  • Average housing costs as a percentage of median household income. Data on housing costs and household income comes from the Census Bureau’s Five-Year American Community Survey.

We’ve ranked each city by metric. Next, we find the average ratings for each city, giving double weighting to women’s median income, wage differential, and women’s unemployment rate. All other factors receive a unique weight. We then assign a score based on the final average rating. The city with the highest average rating received a score of 100, while the city with the lowest average rating received a score of 0.

Questions about our research? Contact us at press@smartasset.com

Image credit: © iStock.com/mapodile

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