According to the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Minnesota was one of only two states to report a drop in poverty rates from 2011 to 2012.
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The national poverty rate held steady at 15.9 percent. Here in Minnesota, however, the trend line actually bent a little in the right direction: After three consecutive years of increases, Minnesota's poverty rate showed a statistically significant decrease from 11.9 percent in 2011 to 11.4 percent in 2012 (and down in Texas from 18.5% to 17.9%). That is about 23,600 fewer Minnesotans in poverty compared to 2011.
While this is good news, there are still nearly 600,000 people living in poverty in our state, and Minnesota's poverty rate still far exceeds the 8 percent level we saw at the turn of the century.
Robin Hicks, a school-based mental health counselor for the Wilder Foundation's Kofi Services, had a firsthand experience with poverty. She grew up in a low-income family in Minneapolis.
Poverty is more than a lack of money and a dearth of material possessions, Hicks told us. It's a way of life, a "mind-state."
"If I could rename poverty, I would call it a silent killer," said Hicks.
By age 13 she ran with a neighborhood gang, by 16 she had her first child, a boy. During her teen years she was stabbed five times and shot in the back.
Poverty, Hicks said, is debilitating. It kills your trust. "It kills your hopes and dreams," she said. She never learned about saving money or keeping a job or good work ethics or the importance of education, she said.
Hicks joins the conversation on The Daily Circuit, where we'll discuss what's working and what isn't in Minnesota's plan to end poverty.