MN Child Poverty Up 62% Since the Beginning of the Decade

September 22, 2011

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Children Hurt Most Deeply 

St. Paul, MN- According to numbers released today by the U.S. Census American Community Survey, more Minnesota children lived in poverty* in 2010 than at the beginning of the decade.

  • In 2000, nine percent of children lived in poverty (114,000 children); by 2010 15.2% of children (192,000) lived in poverty, an increase of 62 percent.
  • Compared to 10 years ago, 78,000 more Minnesota children were at risk for the negative impact poverty has on outcomes such as school readiness, overall health and adult productivity.
  • 81,400 children in 2010 lived in deep poverty**, which research has documented is particularly stressful for children’s healthy development.

Nationally, the numbers are similarly grim.

  • Nearly one million more children lived in poverty in 2010, raising the number to 16.4 million of our nation’s children.

Growing numbers of the youngest children are living in poverty. Since the greatest period of rapid brain development occurs in a child’s early years, poverty in these years can create lifelong harmful effects.

  • Nationally, 5.5 million under the age of five lived in poverty in 2010.
  • In Minnesota, the poverty rate for children under five was 17 percent.
  • 32,000, or eight percent of children under six, were living in deep poverty.

Clearly, families are struggling throughout the state. “Families are becoming more vulnerable because more are living from paycheck to paycheck hoping they can make it each month and that the car won’t break down or their kids won’t get sick,” said Kara Arzamendia, Research Director at Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN).

Overall, the reason for these increases in child poverty stems from the inequality of economic growth over the last decade. For example, those in the top one percent nationwide (households making $620,000 or more) saw their earnings increase by 7.3 percent from 2009 to 2010, while those in the bottom fifth lost income over the past year. In Minnesota, the median household income declined over the past decade. Families in 2010 made 20 percent less than families in 2000, a $12,000 decline in earnings. Families are working just as hard but making less to spend on important necessities like healthy food and safe housing for their children. Combine unequal economic growth with the current recession and many families are struggling to stay afloat.

CDF-MN Interim Director, Sybil Axner sees the numbers as yet another wake up call for Minnesotans to stand up for policies that ensure its children’s healthy futures: “What it comes down to is children need adequate nutrition, warm homes and access to quality health care and child care for them to thrive, do well in school and become productive adults. We’re going to need them to ensure a healthy future for Minnesota – so the investments we make today, will bring bigger and brighter returns for all of our futures.”



Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG):
* For a family of four, $22,350 or less is considered below poverty.
** Extreme poverty is considered 50% or less than the FPG