ST. CLOUD - The level of trust in others in the St. Cloud metro area grew over the last five years, according to a recent survey.

The Social Capital Survey included telephone calls to 510 residents within a 15-mile radius of St. Cloud. It asked about connections individuals have with others in the community, referred to as "social capital". Questions were asked about trust in others and social connections.

Photo: Social Capital Report, UpFront Consulting

The study found social capital went up in Central Minnesota since 2010, although it isn't as high as it was in 2004.

Since 2010, the amount of people in the St. Cloud metro who trust the Somali population specifically, grew 17 percentage points (56 percent to 73 percent).

Ann Finan, a professor of Sociology at St. Cloud State University who helped analyze the survey, says this is one of the most important findings to her.

"That's a huge improvement and I think it really bodes well for the community."

However, Finan was quick to point out that the increase of trust in the Somali population doesn't mean there aren't still issues of racism in St. Cloud.

"It's very encouraging but it also doesn't cancel out all the problems that we face. However, I see the increased trust as a resource to address those problems."

Overall: 69 percent agreed with the phrase "people can be trusted". That's up from 55 percent in 2010. The level of trust from respondents grew since 2010 across all different racial groups, including white people (90 to 95 percent), African Americans or black people (81 to 90 percent), Latinos or Hispanics (80 to 92 percent)  and Somali people.

The survey doesn't specifically indicate why trust has improved over the last five years. Finan says the recent improvement likely correlates with the improved economy since the Great Recession.

Other key points found from the survey:

  • A higher percentage of residents reported having someone of another race in their home or being in the home of someone of another race.
  • There was a significant positive change in trust of African Americans and Latino/a people.
  • The percent of residents who report volunteering in the community is down (77 percent to 71 percent) since 2010. Those who volunteer reported doing so slightly fewer times than 2010.
  • Respondents who report working on a community project is up slightly compared to 2010.
  • Trust in the national government has slipped further. It's been falling since 2004.