The income gap affecting black Minnesotans widened dramatically in 2014 – with median household incomes in the state plunging almost $4,000.
New figures show the median income for black households in Minnesota last year was $27,026, a significant drop on the $31,021 earned in 2013 – while incomes in all other households rose slightly from $60,702 in 2013 to $61,481 last year.
The statistics were released as part of the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which describes itself as the "most comprehensive information source on American households."
Minnesota was one of only two states to see a significant increase in its score on the bureau's "Gini Index " for income inequality, the other being Idaho.
According to the Star Tribune, black households in Minnesota are now ranked 45th in the nation for median incomes out of the 50 states (plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico), behind Mississippi which is in 44th.
Steven Belton, CEO of the Minneapolis Urban League, told the newspaper: "It's alarming. It's a deepening of the income disparity, not only across the state but across the nation. When you pair that with the continuing disparities we have in education, health and wealth, it's disturbing."
There was also a significant drop in income for American Indian households in Minnesota, the figures show, falling by $3,000 from $35,764 in 2013 to $32,764 in 2014.
On the other hand, incomes for white households rose, from $62,634 in 2013 to $64,281 last year – more than twice as much as black households – with incomes for Asian and Hispanic households also increasing.
Despite the racial disparities, the survey found Minnesota's poverty rates were relatively stable between 2013-14.
While Minnesota's average income of $61,481 is significantly higher than the national average of $53,657, MPR News notes that median incomes didn't rise a whole lot between 2013-14 (it rose $779, according to the figures). This is despite unemployment falling and the economy supposedly buoyant.
Steve Hine, of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, told MPR this has been "characteristic of this economy's recovery," saying that income growth has been slower than expected despite the improving trading conditions.