Report: More Minn. children living in povertyby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Children's Defense Fund Minnesota says more families are struggling to meet basic needs.
In its annual Kids Count Data Book released Wednesday, the child advocacy group says 174,000 Minnesota kids were living in poverty in 2009.
Research director Kara Arzamendia says that's a jump of 53 percent over the past decade.
"For children living in extreme poverty, unfortunately the situation is even more dire," she said.
At the beginning of the decade, 38,000 children were living in extreme poverty. The number has grown to 78,000 in 2009.
The federal poverty rate is defined as an income of $22,000 a year or less for a family of four. Extreme poverty is half that amount.
The report also said poverty disparities are growing between some children of color and their Caucasian peers. African-American children are six times more likely to be living in poverty than white, non-Hispanic children.
The report says 47 percent of Minnesota's African American children lived in poverty in 2009, compared to 8 percent for white children.
Among Asian children, 22 children lived in poverty, giving Minnesota the highest rate in the country for that population.
The Children's Defense Fund says it would take four full-time minimum wage jobs for a couple with two children to meet their family's basic needs.
The group wants lawmakers to increase the state's minimum wage and expand child care, health care and food assistance programs.