Online portfolio of maps highlights where Minnesotans struggle most with low incomes, high housing costs and childhood poverty

December 16, 2014 - Knowing who is still struggling with high housing costs and low-wage jobs, and where they live, are important factors in ensuring all of Minnesota’s communities are thriving. While the state’s economy is recovering, too many Minnesotans can’t meet their families’ basic needs.

Mapping Minnesota’s Future to Shared Opportunities is a portfolio of maps that show where the greatest needs are on measures including housing costs, low wages, income inequality and poverty rates. The portfolio is a joint project of the Minnesota Budget Project and Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and is meant to help policymakers and community leaders understand the challenges in their communities.

“Minnesota should be a state where opportunities are available to everyone, and yet economic security is still out of reach for too many of our neighbors,” said Nan Madden, director of the Minnesota Budget Project. “These maps help us better visualize where some of our most critical needs are so that all of us can thrive, regardless of where we live or what our ethnic background is.”

Data highlights:
Housing:
High housing costs pose a serious challenge for many Minnesota families, leading to hardships in paying for other basic needs, including food, medicine and transportation to jobs. Families paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered “cost-burdened,” meaning they cannot afford their housing. In 2012, more than 600,000 households in Minnesota struggled with high housing costs.

Child poverty:
In 2012, nearly 1 in 5 pre-schoolers in Minnesota lived in poverty. And the problem is worse in some areas of the state: in Mahnomen County over 40 percent of children lived in poverty. Childhood poverty can have serious long-term consequences on health, academic success and adult earning potential. Food assistance programs, like SNAP, and other safety-net programs continue to be critical to raising children and families out of poverty in all Minnesota communities.

Low wages and income inequality:
The benefits of our state’s economic growth are not reaching all Minnesotans. While high-wage workers have seen their incomes increase significantly, wages have been much more stagnant for those with low incomes. The average income of the highest 5 percent of Minnesota households was 11 times the average income of the lowest 20 percent of households.