Minnesota, land of people who pay on time

The Great Recession took a massive toll on the U.S. economy. Collapsing home values and lost jobs delivered a gut punch to many here and across the country. Debts and misery seemed to pile up.

Yet despite those woes, the majority of Minnesotans stayed current on their credit payments, even during the worst of the recession.

Data collected and mapped by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show some fascinating patterns. In 2013, the most recent numbers available, 85 percent of Minnesotans with debt were current on payments of all kinds. In the counties with data, Otter Tail was the champ, with 89 percent current.


Even in the depths of the recession, the data indicate 83 percent in Minnesota paying on time.

Given that diligence, it makes sense that the data on credit scores show Minnesotans among the best in the country in 2013, with nearly 60 percent considered a prime risk, far better than the nation as a whole:


Yes, it’s not just Minnesota.

We’ve had lots of fun over the years poking Wisconsin for its lackluster economic recovery compared to ours. But the New York Fed data show that Wisconsin and the Dakotas also have some of the best credit scores in the country — and do better than most of the U.S. in paying on time.

The data don’t explain why. But there’s no doubt that Upper Midwest economies survived the Great Recession better than other regions. Jobs came back faster here and when people have jobs, they generally make good on their debts.

  • paddy

    Another classic example Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Law of the Canadian Border.


    “On to the Congressional Budget Office! Please, I asked, get me the
    correlation between (credit scores/on time payments) and distance of state capitals from the
    Canadian border. Back came the answer. (whatever the answer is) — which may be
    the strongest correlation known to (credit monitoring), and which means that the
    further a capital is from the border, the lower its (credit scores/on time payments).”

  • Jeff

    It might be more closely related to poverty rates. It’s hard to have a good credit score without much income, etc. This map is poverty by state (USDA data) and seems to correlate:

    • Jerry

      It’s maps like these that make me wonder why the Republican Party thinks Minnesota needs to be more like Texas and the rest of the south.

      • John

        Yes, and how come the south is so vocal against social programs (that they benefit from disproportionately) and federal taxes (for which they experience a net gain). There is a recent study showing the level of education in Republican areas as significantly lower than in Democrat leaning areas (based on voter statistics from the 2012 election). Maybe that is why the people in those areas vote the way they do despite the lack of benefit they experience from the policies they endorse – they are just too dumb to realize it when they shoot themselves in the foot.

  • jon

    I never realized that “Don’t mess with Texas!” was investment advice.