Minnesotans in poverty topped half a million in 2009

More than half a million Minnesotans lived below the poverty line in 2009, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, a spike of 15 percent over the previous year.

Further, people of color and children were strongly affected. 

“Although there was a significant increase in poverty among non-Hispanic whites in Minnesota, the most concerning news continues to be the huge racial disparities in our state,’’ said Christina Wessel, deputy director of the Minnesota Budget Project. “We also saw thousands of additional Minnesota children fall below the poverty line during the recession.’’

Those struggling to make ends meet translated into 563,000 people last year, compared with 491,000 Minnesotans in 2008 living below the national poverty line, defined as income of just under $22,000 for a family of two adults and two children.

“It’s a pretty remarkable increase in the last year,” said Susan Brower, research associate at St. Paul-based Wilder Research with the Compass project, after a morning spent combing through the government’s numbers.  

Further, Brower said, the new report showed 250,000 Minnesotans had fallen into deep poverty because their income was half the national poverty level.  

Still, the percentage of poor in Minnesota is smaller than the national rate (PDF).  Nationally, the tally of those living in poverty rose from 13.3 percent to 14.3 percent from 2008 to 2009, while Minnesota’s numbers rose from 9.8 percent to 11 percent.

For many, those poverty numbers seemed to overshadow other information gathered in the American Community Survey and Puerto Rico Community Survey, on a range of topics that include health insurance coverage, housing and home ownership rates.  

Wilder Compass is continuing to post data here.

Here’s a look at some of the Minnesota stats: 

• White residents: Eight percent were at the poverty rate in 2008 and 9 percent in 2009.

• Blacks or African-Americans: 30 percent were in poverty in 2008 and 35 percent in 2009.

• For Hispanics, in 2008, 20 percent were at the poverty level; that number rose to 26 percent in 2009. 

• The American Indian group tally is  “a little foggier,” Brower said, because of margins of error of almost 5 percent — meaning actual numbers could also have increased or stayed the same. In 2008, for instance, the number of impoverished American Indian people was at 37 percent with that number dropping to 35 percent in 2009.

• With Asian residents, the poverty rate stayed at about 17 percent.

Wilder has been tracking poverty levels since the 1990 census, and the lowest rate was 7.9 percent in 2000, Brower said.  See a graph here.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/28/2010 - 01:32 pm.

    “Still, the percentage of poor in Minnesota is smaller than the national rate …”

    Glad to see that Minnesota is doing ever so much better than those staunch bastions of regression, namely Texas and Arizona.

  2. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/28/2010 - 02:14 pm.

    It always amazes me how well the high rates of poverty on that map correlate with the states that have conservative politics – fiscal and social – that some Minnesotans suggest we emulate.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/29/2010 - 09:27 am.

    The disparities between white and non-white continue to appall me, here and nationally. Those who believe racism is a thing of the past should study both history and the resulting numbers.

  4. Submitted by m. claire on 09/29/2010 - 09:54 am.

    Well said, Jeff.

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