Child Poverty

Child Poverty Drops Overall, but Number of Latino Children in Poverty Increases Nearly 10%

For More Information Contact:
Bharti Wahi
Executive Director
612-810-2976 (cell)

Saint Paul, Minn. – Children remain the poorest age group in Minnesota with nearly 150,000—11.8 percent of all children—living in poverty in 2017, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. While some progress was made in reducing poverty this year, continuing the downward trend since 2013, still more than one in ten of Minnesota’s children is poor. Policies and programs that support families and help ensure that children’s basic needs are met are crucial to ensure continued decreases in the poverty level for children. Children of color and American Indian children make up 30 percent of the total Minnesota child population but 63 percent of the number of children in poverty. 36.1 percent of Black children, 31.2 percent of American Indian children, 28.9 percent of children of two or more races, 23.7 percent of Latino children, and 12.9 percent of Asian children were poor in Minnesota compared to 6.3 percent of White children. While we saw improvements across racial groups from last year, the number of Latino children in poverty increased by 9.3%. Historical policies and practices that have prevented people of color and American Indian people from having a fair start continues to be reflected in today’s poverty rate disparities.

Despite the overall decline in child poverty, the data continue to show that more needs to be done in Minnesota for the economic recovery to be fully realized by lower income families, particularly for the most economically disadvantaged families. While the rate of children living in extreme poverty (or half the federal poverty threshold) declined 16% over the past year to 4.7 percent, families of color and American Indian families still have some of the highest child poverty rates in the country. And while White children in Minnesota have one of the lowest child poverty rates in the nation, children of color and American Indian children rank in the middle of states for their high levels of child poverty.

“I am not surprised that new Census reports show an increase in poverty rates for Latino children. We know that much of the anti-immigrant sentiment openly displayed by many in the last few years is causing alarming isolation and despair that forces immigrant families to go underground. People are not accessing resources available to their United States born children, nor are they able to find support from government sources who should invest in the wellbeing of all children. These Census results should be a call to action for all of us to create new avenues of support and outcomes to improve social determinants of health for our families,” said Ruby Azurdia-Lee, CEO of Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES).

Poverty is defined as an annual income below $25,100 for an average family of four, or less than $2,091 a month or $ 68.77 a day. Extreme poverty is half that level. Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) estimates the basic needs annual costs of living in Minnesota counties for two adult workers with two children to range from just more than $60,000 ($14.40 per hour per full-time worker) in most rural counties to more than $100,000 ($24 per hour per full-time worker) per year in metro area counties. DEED estimates that the median wage of available jobs at the end of 2017 was $14.34 per hour and 41 percent of those jobs were part-time.

Children under age 18 living in poverty and state rank by race/ethnicity, 2017

Race/Ethnicity Number Rate State Rank
White 55,440 6.3 4
American Indian 5,664 31.2 25
Asian 9,509 12.9 24
Black 44,264 36.1 27
Hispanic/Latino 26,197 27.4 17
Two or More Races 12,930 16.1 17
TOTAL 149,926 11.8 5

“While the continuing decline in child poverty in 2017 is a positive step, we must continue to advocate for a living wage, increased access to programs that help families meet basic needs, and work to remove barriers that prevent people from rising above the poverty level. We know that refundable tax credits for working families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), child care assistance and housing subsidies help contribute to parents meeting the needs of their families, improve child outcomes, and support our state’s economy as a whole. These programs, as well as family-friendly workplace policies, such as paid family leave, provide the infrastructure necessary to ensure the future success of our youngest generation,” said Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota’s Executive Director, Bharti Wahi.

“Two-generation solutions that support working parents and increase children’s access to basic needs and opportunity are critical to improving child outcomes and beginning to address the systemic barriers that exist particularly for families of color and American Indian families,” said Bharti Wahi, CDF-MN Executive Director. “We need to continue building on recent investments in effective work support programs such as SNAP, WIC, Child Care Assistance and refundable tax credits, to expand access and ensure all children, and all of us, can benefit from the individual and community economic and social benefits they provide,” Wahi said. “Recent action such as the minimum wage increase, along with investments in early education, child care and children’s health coverage are proven strategies to alleviate the effects of poverty and improve economic, academic and health outcomes for Minnesota children. To ensure a growing economy and productive workforce, Minnesota must continue to expand these and other programs that improve child outcomes.”


The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.