Solutions Blog

U.S. & Minnesota Poverty Data 2016

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated poverty and income data. Generally it’s good news for the country and Minnesota. Poverty rates are down from the previous year to near pre-recession levels.

  • Nationally, the poverty rate declined from 13.5% in 2015 to 12.7% in 2016.
  • Minnesota’s overall poverty rate declined from 10.2% in 2015 to 9.9% in 2016.

In Minnesota

Not all groups of people fare the same when it comes to their poverty rates. New 1-year poverty estimates from the American Community Survey show that in Minnesota:

  • Children, especially young children, remain disproportionately in poverty. 12.7% of children in Minnesota live in poverty.
  • Seniors are less likely to live in poverty than the general population. 7.2% of seniors (65+) are living in poverty, a slight increase from 2015 (6.9%).
  • People of color disproportionately live in poverty.
White alone 7.3%
Black or African American alone 29.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 31.6%
Asian alone 16.0%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone     NA
Some other race alone 20.1%
Two or more races 17.6%
Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race) 18.1%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 7.0%


  • While the poverty rate for most races decreased, the American Indian and Alaska Native population saw the poverty rate increase to 31.6%. (This is a statistically significant difference from the previous year – so due to more than just chance in the sampling methodology).


Safety Net Programs Lift People Out of Poverty

In addition to the poverty data, the Census Bureau also released the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The Supplemental Poverty Measure takes into account other income, including from safety net programs to get a more accurate picture of poverty. From the Supplemental Poverty Measure, we learn that safety net programs really are working when it comes to lifting people out of poverty. In 2016:

  • Social Security lifted 26 million people above the poverty level,
  • Low-income tax credits such as the EITC and Child Tax Credit prevented nearly 8.2 million from being poor,
  • SNAP/food stamps lifted nearly 3.6 million out of poverty (including 1.5 million children),
  • Housing subsidies and Supplemental Security Income each lifted more than 3 million people out of poverty.

What’s next

The data released last week only looks at national, state and select county-level data (county-level data is only available for counties with a population of over 60,000 people. In December, the Census Bureau will release 5-year estimates that will allow us to look at poverty rates for all counties in Minnesota.

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