MN Immigrant Poverty Rate Among Highest in Nation

A recent study found that low levels of education among Minnesota’s immigrants, many of whom entered the country as refugees, has raised the poverty rate.

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies found that Minnesota has one of the poorest immigrant populations in the country.

According to the report, the state has the third-highest poverty rate among immigrants and their children, with 28.5 percent of immigrant households living in poverty, compared to the national average of 22.3 percent. The poverty rate among the state’s U.S.-born residents and their families stands, in stark contrast, at 9 percent.

Minnesota trails only Arizona, which has the highest immigrant poverty rate at 37.2 percent, and North Carolina, where 28.6 percent of immigrant families live in poverty.

Meanwhile, about 48 percent of immigrant households in Minnesota are on some kind of welfare program, like food assistance, Medicaid, or subsidized housing. That percentage is the highest among all states and higher than the national average of 36.7 percent, the study found.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., said it used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to compile its report.

“There is considerable concern in this country about issues like poverty and the large uninsured population,” Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said in a statement. “But what has generally not been acknowledged is the impact of immigration on these problems. Absent a change in policy, 11 [million] to 15 million new immigrants are likely to settle in this country in the next decade and may further exacerbate present problems.”

Minnesota’s immigrant population reportedly grew 45 percent between 2000 and 2010, which is significantly higher than the national growth rate of 28 percent over the same period.

Immigrants—who accounted for nearly 7 percent of the state’s residents in 2010—and their children place significant demands on public health care progams, the report said. Thirty-three percent of immigrants and their children are on Medicaid, compared to 13 percent of U.S.-born residents and their families. Meanwhile, 18 percent of immigrant families lack health insurance, accounting for 17 percent of the state’s uninsured.

In addition, Minnesota immigrants’ home ownership rate, at 46 percent, is significantly lower than the rate for natives, which the study found to be 75 percent.

According to the report, one of the primary reasons that immigrants in the state have a high rate of poverty is that a large number arrived in the United States with relatively low levels of education.

Among adult immigrants in the state (defined in the report as those between the ages of 25 and 65), 25 percent have not completed high school, compared to 4 percent of natives. However, the share of immigrants in the state with at least a bachelor’s degree matches that of natives at 36 percent.

Another factor contributing to the high rates of poverty and welfare use for Minnesota's immigrants is that a larger percent of the state’s immigrants were admitted as refugees compared to other states, the report said.