Minnesota Poverty Rises While Median Income Falls

St. Paul, Minn., September 13, 2011 - Poverty has increased substantially in Minnesota, according to preliminary U.S. Census Bureau figures released today. In 2009-2010, 560,000 Minnesotans lived in poverty, or roughly one out of ten state residents. That represents a 2.1 percentage point increase from 2006-07. Nationwide, 46.2 million people were in poverty in 2010.

Even more staggering, the preliminary numbers show that over the last decade, Minnesota’s median household income fell from $65,120 in 1999-2000 to $54,785 in 2009-2010, or by more than $10,000, after adjusting for inflation. Only Michigan experienced a larger decline in median income during the same period.

“Thousands of Minnesotans are falling victim to our struggling economy,” said Minnesota Budget Project Deputy Director Christina Wessel. “To get our state back on the right track, Minnesota must meet the economic crisis with a balanced approach that includes raising revenue. Rising poverty and declining median income put our economic future at risk. Minnesota needs to invest in the building blocks of job creation and economic growth: strong schools, quality infrastructure and safe communities.”

The report shows that the public sector plays an important role in helping many struggling families. Although the number of Minnesotans lacking health insurance remains at about 10 percent, the percentage of people getting coverage through their employer is declining. Over the last decade, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of Minnesotans receiving coverage through public health programs, particularly among children.

Wessel said the data released today put an exclamation point on the continued need to create quality jobs and jump start the economy.

“Despite the fact that the Great Recession technically ended in 2009, many families continue to suffer,” said Wessel. “Nationally, median income continued to drop in 2010, the poverty rate continued to rise, and the gap between the richest and poorest people continued to widen."

The Census Bureau’s release of Current Population Survey data offers a preliminary look at Minnesota trends. On September 22, the Census Bureau will release more definitive state-level data on poverty and income, as part of the American Community Survey.

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The Minnesota Budget Project, an initiative of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, provides independent research, analysis and advocacy on budget and tax issues, emphasizing their impact on low- and moderate-income Minnesotans.

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