Minnesota Income Disparities Worsen

St. Paul, Minn., September 22, 2011 - Minnesota is losing ground in the battle to close the gap in economic well-being between whites and communities of color, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today.

The Census’ American Community Survey found that Minnesota’s overall poverty rate increased significantly between 2007 and 2010. However, communities of color in Minnesota experience poverty rates that are as much as five times that of the white population, and that are significantly higher than the national average for those communities.

Median incomes are dropping in Minnesota, and the decline is particularly dramatic for some communities of color. Between 2007 and 2010, the statewide median household income declined by five percent. However, the median household income for blacks in Minnesota declined by 16 percent and for American Indians by 22 percent.

“Household incomes are dropping in Minnesota, but they’re dropping even more for blacks and American Indians,” said Minnesota Budget Project Deputy Director Christina Wessel. “That is increasing the income gap between whites and some communities of color into a canyon.”

Minnesota’s 2010 poverty rate was 11.6 percent. Communities of color in Minnesota face even steeper poverty rates. In 2010, 17.8 percent of Asians, 24.4 percent of Latinos, 37.2 percent of blacks and 39.5 percent of American Indians were living in poverty. In contrast, 8.4 percent of white Minnesotans were living in poverty.

Wessel said the economic well-being of American Indians is the most alarming. Two out of every five American Indians in Minnesota now live below the poverty line ($22,113 for a family of four), a significant jump from 2007 levels.

“While it’s encouraging that poverty among white Minnesotans remains below the national average, it is shocking that poverty for people of color remains high and is increasing,” said Wessel. “As a state and a nation, we must do better.”

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More details are available on the Minnesota Budget Project’s blog, Minnesota Budget Bites.

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.