Tracking the Trends in Greater MN
- Created on Thursday, 07 June 2012 19:00
We have known for some time that child poverty has been on the rise in Minnesota, a decade-long trend that has been worsening with the current economic recession. Each year our friends at the Children's Defense Fund release their annual Minnesota Kids Count databook, highlighting key statistics on the wellbeing of our state's children. This year they place particular emphasis on assessing how these statistics impact regions around the state.
The report states that over the last decade child poverty has increased by 62%, and there are currently 192,000 children living in poverty (or 15% of all children). Since 2000, the number of children living in deep poverty (50% of the federal poverty guideline) has more than doubled from 38,000 to 81,000 in 2010. This trend is alarming, and when we break down the data by region and demographics, we find that solutions won't be straightforward.
One of the key elements revealed by the study is that child poverty is not just a metro issue. While inner-city child poverty is a real concern, the region with the highest child poverty rate in the state is, in fact, North-Central Minnesota. Similar to the child poverty trends around the state, we see that the region with the highest rate of children on food support (SNAP) and children receiving free and reduced-price lunch are, again, not in the metro area.
Rural poverty also offers unique challenges. When we consider access to resources, we see that in rural communities there are fewer available options for families living in poverty, whether it is stable jobs with benefits, access to health care providers, or quality child care outlets. Families may have to travel farther to access resources when they are available. There is a significant increase in children without health insurance when we leave the metro area. There are many factors that play into this, including financial barriers, state outreach limitations, institutions that support enrollment in public services, and social stigma around receiving public assistance.
Finally the report discusses how over the past decade, demographics in the state have shifted significantly. In Minnesota, the 2010 census revealed that the child population in our state actually decreased by about 3,000 children over the past 10 years. Only 23 counties in Minnesota saw an increase in their child population, and 20 of those counties were in greater Minnesota. The remaining 63, with the exception of one that did not change, saw a decrease. There has been a concurrent increase in the number of children of color, and the report notes that by 2020 there will be more retirees than schoolchildren for the first time in Minnesota.
For more information and to read the full report you can visit the Children's Defense Fund's website. Next legislative session, working with CDF, we hope to address some of the issues surrounding child poverty by passing the Family Economic Security Act. Help us elect public leaders who will join us in this important work. These trends are reversible, we just need the public will to reverse them.
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