Black, Hispanic and American Indian households in Minnesota made modest economic gains last year but remain far behind whites and Asians, according to new census data released last week.
Median income for all households in the state is up 5 percent in the past four years. At nearly $65,600, it is above its prerecession level after adjusting for inflation, data from the 2016 American Community Survey show.
The survey is sent out annually to about 3.5 million households in the U.S.
In the Twin Cities, the median household income is even higher, about $73,000, but the gap between whites and minorities is also wider. White households make, on average, more than $40,000 more than black households.
Susan Brower, Minnesota’s state demographer, said her first look at the data’s high-level economic indicators showed improvements across the board in Minnesota, but that some racial or ethnic groups have taken longer to recover from the recession.
“It was kind of a slower recovery for Minnesota’s Latino and black populations, in particular,” Brower said. “You see higher rates of unemployment holding on for longer. You see the median household income depressed for longer than it was for white Minnesotans. But across all of those indicators, there’s modest improvement.”
One of the reasons black household income is much lower than other groups is because more than 37 percent are single-person households. Overall in the metro, 30 percent of all households consist of a single person. This is a growing trend, largely due to elderly people choosing to stay in their homes even after losing a spouse. Brower noted that this makes the median household income metric more problematic with each passing year.
Median family income, which is calculated for households with two or more people related by blood, marriage or adoption, eliminates those single-person households. That metric shows a 7 percent increase the past four years for Twin Cities’ black families, after adjusting for inflation. But they remain far behind other groups, most likely due to fewer dual-earner households.
Improving the economic standing of non-white households is important as the metro area becomes more diverse. The overall metro area — which the federal government defines as stretching across 16 counties — is now 24 percent non-white. But most of that diversity is in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, where more than one-third are non-white.
The younger generations show that diversity will grow exponentially. About 36 percent of metro-area children under age 15 are non-white, compared to just 8 percent of those age 65 and older.