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New Child Poverty Report Shows Mixed Data for MN

A new Census Bureau report says 143,000 Minnesota children are living in poverty. Nationwide, the number is 10.5 million. (Adobe Stock)
A new Census Bureau report says 143,000 Minnesota children are living in poverty. Nationwide, the number is 10.5 million. (Adobe Stock)
September 18, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- Newly released figures show Minnesota's overall childhood poverty rate declined last year. But the Census Bureau report indicates longstanding issues remain - and they'll likely worsen because of the pandemic.

The report says Minnesota's childhood poverty rate continued a downward trend, falling to just above 11%. However, 43% of those kids live in extreme poverty.

Bharti Wahi, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, said that's too many -- and the percentages are higher in families of color and indigenous families.

"We can see that there was already a disparity going into our current economic crisis," said Wahi. "And that just means it is likely to be far worse right now."

Children of color and American Indian children make up 31% of the child population in Minnesota. But they make up 64% of the kids living in poverty.

The disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on these families also has been documented in multiple reports and studies.

Wahi said she is most concerned that it will be much harder for families in these communities to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic, which could widen the poverty gap.

"The horizon from which they will be able to recover is gonna take longer," said Wahi, "unless we are able to really, I think, make some considerable investments."

For starters, she suggested another relief package from Congress that sets aside money for key programs and would provide immediate assistance that has eroded in recent weeks.

Wahi also pointed to St. Paul's recent approval of an initiative to provide direct cash payments to certain low-income families as a good example of government working to combat poverty.

Disclosure: Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN