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Nonwhite kids in Minnesota are far more likely to be poor, group finds

A sharp rise in the child poverty rate for two groups is described as particularly alarming.

Children in Minnesota who are black, American-Indian, Asian, Latino, or a mix of races are far more likely to grow up poor than white children.

That's according to Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota, which analyzed recently released census data to get a snapshot of how child poverty has changed in the state.

The nonprofit said the total number of children in Minnesota living in poverty went down slightly in 2016 to 12.7 percent (that's 160,626 kids). Though the decrease wasn't statistically significant from 2015.

The nonprofit's big takeaway was the disparity between racial and ethnic groups. Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota says children of color make up 30 percent of the state's child population, yet represent 62 percent of the number of kids in poverty.

Poverty is averaged out as an annual income of $24,563 or less for a family of four. (That works out to $2,047 a month.) "Extreme poverty" is less than half of that.

The breakdown

About 6.8 percent of white children in the state are considered in poverty, the lowest rate among groups.

The second-lowest? Asian children, of which 18.4 percent – are in poverty.

That figure only climbs higher from there. Here is the organization's chart showing the differences:

Particularly concerning to Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota is the poverty rate among American-Indian children and those that are two or more races. 

There was a 30 percent jump in the poverty rate among those groups from 2015 to 2016.

Executive Director Bharti Wahi said in a statement the overall reduction (which has been the case for five consecutive years now) is "promising," but described the rise among American-Indian children and children of two or more races as "alarming."

“The data are a rallying cry to continue investments and target resources to promote economic stability for all Minnesotans to alleviate persistent disparities and chronic, historical systemic inequities that put far too many of our state’s future workers — and all of us — at risk for a less prosperous future,” Wahi said.

The big picture

In the U.S. as a whole, 18 percent of children were in poverty last year, down from 19.7 percent in 2015, the Census Bureau said. Kids represent nearly one-third of all people in poverty, despite making up less than a quarter of the population.

Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota argues programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), WIC, the National School Lunch Program, and housing subsidies helped lift more than a million children out of poverty last year.

President Donald Trump in May proposed a 29 percent cut to the SNAP budget (formerly known as food stamps), as well as a tightening of eligibility requirements to ensure those most in need benefit. Able-bodied adults would also be required to work.

Congress hasn't taken up this proposal yet.

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