Minnesota still a land of inequality

Clark Biegler
Sep 19, 2013

Minnesota is the land of unequal opportunities. That’s according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The American Community Survey (ACS) 2012 data released this week show that Minnesota’s relative economic strength has not reached our communities of color.

As a whole, Minnesotans are faring better in this slow economic recovery than people in other states. In 2012, our median household income was $58,906 and our poverty rate was 11.4 percent, both significantly better than the U.S. average.

However, some communities in the state are not sharing in that success. Black, American Indian, and Hispanic Minnesotans earned significantly less than white Minnesotans in 2012, and some of these communities of color have median incomes below the national average for their racial or ethnic group. For example, the median income for black Minnesotans was about $5,600 less than the national median income for blacks.

Poverty in Minnesota declined between 2011 and 2012, although it remains above pre-recession levels. But again, there are large racial disparities. While only one in 12 white Minnesotans lived below the poverty threshold in 2012, about one in three black Minnesotans and one in four Hispanic Minnesotans were in poverty. Furthermore, poverty rates among black and Asian Minnesotans were higher than those of their national counterparts.

2012 Minnesota Poverty and Median Income by Race/Ethnicity
Poverty Rate Median Income
All Minnesotans 11.4 percent $58,906
White (non-Hispanic) 8.1 percent $61,667
Black/African-American 37.8 percent $28,136
Asian 15.9 percent $65,959
American Indian 31.9 percent $32,153
Hispanic/Latino 25.7 percent $41,718
U.S. Census Bureau, 2013


These new numbers show that not all Minnesotans are benefiting equally from the state’s relative success. For our state to truly be above average, all Minnesotans must have the opportunity to succeed.

-Clark Biegler