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Child Poverty in Minnesota on the Rise

Minnesota's child poverty rate rose to 14.9 percent last year, with nearly 189,000 kids in the state now living in poverty. Credit: Linda Kloosterhof.
Minnesota's child poverty rate rose to 14.9 percent last year, with nearly 189,000 kids in the state now living in poverty. Credit: Linda Kloosterhof.
September 18, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Despite the economic improvements of recent years, the number of Minnesota children who are living in poverty is on the rise.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the child poverty rate in the state increased from 14 percent in 2013 to 14.9 percent last year. Even more alarming, said Stephanie Hogenson, research and policy director for Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota, are the higher poverty rates among children who are Asian, Native American and black.

"The number of black children in poverty increased by 10 percent from 2013 to 2014 and the number of young black children in poverty increased by about 27-percent," she said. "So the disparities particularly between black and white children are not only prevalent, but they've grown in the last year."

Overall, nearly 189,000 kids were living in poverty in Minnesota last year, an increase of 12,000 from the year before.

The increase in child poverty, while not statistically significant, comes as the number of job vacancies in Minnesota is at its highest level in more than a decade, but Hogenson noted that many of these jobs are part-time or lower-paying with a median wage of just under $13 an hour.

"So the way to bridge that gap between those low wages and affording basic needs are to continue investing and ensuring families can continue to access work-support programs and tax credits like the Child Care Assistance program, the SNAP program that helps pay for food, Minnesota health insurance programs," she said.

Not only do those programs and credits benefit the families and their children, Hogenson said, but they also help support local businesses and stimulate the economy.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN