Five years after unemployment peaked in Minnesota during the Great Recession, many Minnesotans found firmer economic footing in 2015.
Overall, Minnesotans ages 16-64 were more likely to be working full-time, and earning higher wages and salaries in 2015 than in 2014, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), released earlier this month.Minnesotans’ robust participation in a labor force with more employment opportunities also raised real household incomes, and helped reduce poverty compared to the prior year. The share of workers (ages 16-64) working full-time also increased from 62.7 percent to 63.7 percent, and rose for both men and women.
“This exceptionally strong evidence of economic improvements in just one year is heartening,” said Minnesota demographer Susan Brower, who analyzed the data with her staff at the Minnesota State Demographic Center.
The median income for all Minnesota households (regardless of size) rose nearly $2,000 in real terms to $63,500 in 2015, up from $61,600 the prior year. Rising incomes appeared to ease some cost burdens, as a smaller percentage of both renters and homeowners reported they paid more than 35 percent of their income toward housing costs.
Poverty fell from 11.5 percent to 10.2 percent between 2014 and 2015, with about 65,000 fewer Minnesotans living in poverty. These economic improvements had broad reach, with reductions in the number and/or the prevalence of poverty for children under 18, working-age people, and older adults (65-plus), as well as Minnesotans who identify as Native-American, Black, or non-Hispanic White. However, 546,000 Minnesotans, including 165,000 children, still had family incomes below the official poverty threshold in 2015.
ACS data from 2014 revealed a troubling decline in median household income for Black households in Minnesota. In 2015, the median incomes rose for all Minnesotans, while the one-year difference in household income for most race groups, including the estimated increase from $27,100 to $30,300 for Black households, was not a statistically significant change.
The latest data shows signs of economic progress for Black Minnesotans. In 2015, the share of Black residents (ages 16-64) who were working rose to 66 percent, up 3 percentage points from 2014 (and nine percentage points higher than 2010). About 8,000 more Black residents (ages 16-64) were employed in 2015 compared to the prior year, reducing the numbers who were unemployed along with those not participating in the labor force.
Furthermore, the number of Black workers with full-time employment grew, while numbers of those with part-time and/or part-year employment held steady. About 13,000 fewer Black Minnesotans lived in poverty in 2015 than 2014, with a poverty rate of 32 percent, the lowest rate in the last six years.
Although the latest data showed declines in poverty and unemployment for some populations of Color, they continue to be far more likely to experience economic hardship than non-Hispanic White Minnesotans.
The data underscored that the composition of Minnesota’s labor force continues to change. Though Minnesota’s typical working-age (16-64) population has grown slowly in recent years, the number and percent of non-Hispanic Whites in that group has declined, while people who identify as other races or Hispanic has swelled.
“This gives added urgency to the work of increasing opportunities and improving equity for our fast-growing populations of color,” said Brower. “Numerous indicators reveal that populations of color experience very different opportunities and outcomes in our state. We have to continue to build on these positive economic trends for Minnesotans of color, as well as all Minnesotans, to strengthen our families, communities and the state as a whole.”