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Did the Economic Lot of Minnesotans Improve During the 1990s?

Ahlburg, Dennis A. and Yong Nam Song

In the mid-1990s, the authors published two reports for CURA on the changing economic fortunes of Minnesotans during the rather turbulent 1980s, a time of stagnating real earnings and rising poverty rates. They found that poverty rates among people of color were three to four times those of White Minnesotans, and that Minnesotans of color were considerably less likely to hold a 'good' job than were comparable White Minnesotans. In this study, based on 2000 U.S. Census data, the authors examined how Minnesotans fared during the prolonged economic expansion of the 1990s. In particular, they looked at the percentage of Minnesotans who held 'good' jobs, the percentage of Minnesotans living in poverty, and the percentage of Minnesota workers who are considered working poorラthat is, working but earning below the poverty line. The authors considered differences among major racial/ethnic groupsラWhites, Blacks, American Indians, Asians, and Hispanics. The authors conclude that the data point to continued improvement in the economic situation of most Minnesotans. During the 1990s, the poverty rate and number of Minnesotans who were poor both declined, although rapid population growth among Blacks and Hispanics led to increases in the number of poor in these groups. Poverty rates remained high in single female-headed households and 50% of the poor lived in such households. An encouraging sign was the large reduction in the impact of race on the chance of being poor, after taking into account other factors. A greater percentage of Minnesotans held good jobs in 2000 than in 1990. Despite declines in the number of poor Minnesotans, there was an increase in the number of working poor in the state, except among Whites. In addition, Black and Hispanic Minnesotans were less likely to hold a good job in 2000 than in 1990. Finally, the authors found that economic success was associated with better education and health, greater English language proficiency, more work experience, and living in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Supported in part through a New Initiative grant from CURA.
34 (4): 25-32.
Online availability
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CURA call number: 
Reporter 34 (4)

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