Poverty On The Rise In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — U.S. Census Bureau numbers show a sharp rise in poverty in Minnesota.

According to the reports, from 2007 to 2008, the poverty level stood at 9.6 percent. From 2009 to 2010, that level rose to 10.8 percent

“It’s not a surprise. It’s a huge disappointment,” said DFL Sen. John Marty, the former chairman of the Commission to End Poverty.

Marty says the rise in poverty is partially due to the economy and decisions that are being made by the state and federal governments. He says those decisions are driving more middle class people into poverty.

“The disappointment is that things are falling faster in Minnesota,” said Marty. “We use to have one of the lowest rates of poverty in the country. Now, it’s like one in 10 Minnesotans live in poverty.”

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

The report is part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States. The report found nationwide household income declined in 2009 to 2010.

The number of people without health-insurance also increased. From 2007 to 2008, 8.1 percent of Minnesotans didn’t have health insurance. For 2009 to 2010, it grew to 8.9 percent.

Brandon Jones with the Salvation Army is seeing the impact of the increase in poverty first hand. He’s a case manager for the Booth Brown House Foyer program. They help young adults ages 16 to 21 in making the transitions from dependent to independent.

“Our doors have been filling up faster than they have been in the last couple of years,” said Jones. “Youth are experiencing homelessness in levels that they’ve never experienced before.”

The average stay for a young adult in his program is between 5 and 6 months. Jones says lately they’ve been at full capacity. As the program works to get adults independent they also work on getting them insured through different counties.

“We do try as hard as we can to get something going where people are covered under healthcare,” said Jones.

Jones says since 2008 they’ve also seen an increase on people coming to their food banks.

“We’ve seen a 150 percent increase in our food shelf population,” said Jones.

For the last four years, Marty has been proposing legislation to help struggling Minnesotans. He calls it the “Worker Dignity Bill.” It’s a combination of raising the minimum wage significantly, increasing the earned income tax credit and making sure parents with young children have affordable childcare.

“If you give people enough income, they’re going to be buying things, buy necessities and helping the rest of the economy,” said Marty.

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