More Than 175,000 Children Remain in Poverty in Minnesota

September 18, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Jessica Anderson (651) 230-2486

According to the numbers released today by the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, approximately 7,000 fewer Minnesota children lived in poverty in 2013 than in 2012. There were fewer young children living in poverty in 2013 than 2012, but young children continue to experience poverty at higher rates. Additionally, while improvements have been made in the rate and number of African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian children living in poverty, disparities persist between these groups and their white counterparts.

The numbers released today show that 14 percent of Minnesota children (176,719) lived in poverty in 2013. That’s a decrease since 2012, when 14.6 percent (183,763) Minnesota children lived in poverty, but is two percentage points higher than 2007 before the recession began. More children living in poverty means more children are at risk of the adverse effects poverty has on academic, social and health outcomes.

The state’s youngest children experience poverty at higher rates with 15.2 percent of Minnesota children under age 6 living in poverty. Since the early years of a child’s life is when the greatest period of rapid brain development occurs, poverty in these years has a greater effect on children’s development and future outcomes.

“Many of our children are doing well but there’s more work to be done to ensure that all children, including children living in poverty and in low-income families, have what they need to thrive in those early years and beyond. The future of our state depends on it,” said Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota’s (CDF-MN) Executive Director, Peggy Flanagan. “Supporting parents as they work to achieve economic stability is critical. One way to do that is to increase access to affordable child care so that they can work or go to school.” Flanagan noted that more than 6,000 families are on the waiting list for the Basic Sliding Fee child care assistance program because the program is underfunded.

While improvements have been made since 2012 in the rate of poverty and number of children of color affected, children who are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, or two or more races experience poverty at higher rates than white children. Just more than 40 percent of African American children and American Indian children, more than 22 percent of Asian children and children of two or more races, and 28 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared to 8 percent of white children.

The poverty measure is the most widely known measure of family economic stability, but the cost of basic needs for a family of four far exceeds the poverty guidelines. CDF-MN estimates that basic needs, including food, housing, health care, transportation, taxes and other necessities for a healthy standard of living, for a family of four living in the Twin Cities would be nearly $52,000. That’s more than two times the poverty guidelines*.

Nationally, nearly one in five children – 14.7 million – were poor in 2013, and children remain the poorest age group in the country. Although 1.5 million fewer children were poor in 2013 than 2012, there were still 1.3 million more poor children than in 2007 before the recession began. 

* Poverty is defined as an annual income below $23,834 for an average family of four, or less than $1,986 a month, $458 a week, or $65 a day. Extreme poverty is defined as less than half of the annual poverty level, or less than $11,917 for a family of four.