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Yearly Report: Minnesota Kids Growing Poorer

May 14, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota kids are losing ground against poverty. That's the conclusion of a new report, the Kids Count Data Book, and Andi Egbert with the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota says it shows they're starting life at a disadvantage.

"Child poverty in our state is the highest of the decade, with 152,000 Minnesota children in poverty, or 12 percent."

She says the rate is even higher for ethnic minorities; almost half of all black children, for example, are below the poverty line. Egbert says the consequences of poverty touch the basi children often go hungry, are less healthy and safe, are more likely to fall behind in school, and later in life be unprepared for the workforce.

Egbert says parents aren't to blame: it's often because of circumstances beyond their control.

"Parents are working harder, and what they earn buys less, they're able to do less with it. Then, a lot of the basic needs that children share, health care, child care, transportation for getting those kids around town, the cost of those needs are outpacing what families are bringing home in their paycheck. Even the cost of child care alone is just extraordinary, and parents are just struggling to keep up."

She says ways to get kids out of poverty include more affordable health and child care and a higher minimum wage. The study says childhood poverty costs the state almost six billion dollars a year in covering essential needs, as well as long-term losses in productivity and economic output.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN