MINNESOTA EDITORIAL FORUM

By Dan McGrath

Given the dire unemployment crisis, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that new Census Bureau data reveal that a record number of people struggled with poverty last year in the United States.

What may be more striking, however, is just how many of the poor were employed. Recently released state and local poverty data reveal that more than half of the Minnesotans who were below the poverty level were employed during 2009. More than 31,000 of our neighbors who worked full-time for the entire year were still officially poor. Too many jobs in our state pay workers poverty wages and are failing to provide a path to economic recovery for Main Street.

The ranks of the working poor are even larger when we look at the number of working Minnesotans who are working fulltime but are making less than twice the poverty line -- a measure many economists use because the official poverty line is based on an outdated 1960’s formula and considered woefully inadequate. Using this yardstick, a shocking one in 10 workers in our state who worked full-time for the entirety of 2009 was still in poverty.


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