Overall Poverty in Minn. Shows Slight Improvement

Updated: 09/19/2013 3:42 PM KSTP.com By: Scott Theisen

Photo: MGN Online
Photo: MGN Online

Minnesota's poverty rate has shown slight improvement, but child poverty remains stubbornly high, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau pegs the state's overall poverty rate at 11.4 percent. Median income remains flat at about $59,000 annually. Child poverty is stuck at 15 percent.
More children are living with a single parent, which may be one explanation for the unchanging child poverty rate, state demographer Susan Brower told Minnesota Public Radio News.
"Children who live with one parent are much more likely to live in poverty. In fact, 70 percent of all children in poverty live with only one parent. That makes you more vulnerable to changes in jobs, changes in employment, economic downturns," Brower said.
Maxfield Elementary Principal Nancy Stachel said poverty makes it more difficult for students to concentrate because they're worried about other aspects of their lives.
"We may have a child that we're finding is acting out at the end of the day," Stachel said. "It's because they're going home and there's no food."
Research scientist Allison Churilla, at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, worries about child poverty in part because it can have wide and lasting effects in school.
Churilla cites large gaps in K-12 reading and math proficiency between lower- and higher-income students. Higher-income students also have much higher on-time high school graduation rates than lower-income students, she said.

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