Marriage, Children and Money in Central Minnesota

Minnesota regional map with central MN area highlighted and words Central Minnesota Regional Labor Market Information Blog

If you have ever thought about having children, you might have asked yourself: can I/we afford children? This common but difficult to answer question unfolds over two decades for many families as they raise their children from birth to adulthood. DEED’s Cost Of Living tool can provide a little insight into the typical costs for increasing the size of your family.

By way of definition, a family is simply having two or more related people living at the same residence. The dynamics of families can be complex or as simple as the broad definition, yet the financial implication of family formation is that each additional person in the family adds additional costs. In Central Minnesota, over three-quarters of families that have a child/children (18 years or younger) are married couples with an average median income of $102,021. The other 24 percent of families are single-parent householders, either female or male, with much lower incomes (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Pie chart of types of families that have children in central Minnesota, by number and average median income, for more information contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or 

According to DEED’s Cost of Living study, a family that has two parents and one child would need an income of $54,468 to cover basic needs in Central Minnesota. Even a family with two working parents and four children would have a basic needs cost of living of $85,308, far less than what most married couple families earn in Central Minnesota. While expenses can vary greatly, this is an indicator that most families with children in Central Minnesota have enough to cover the basics.

Unmarried families with children have two categories according to the U.S. Census Bureau: male householder, no wife present and female householder, no husband present

Both unmarried categories include families that have a single parent and at least one child, but can also include an unmarried partner (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) all living in the same household. A full two-thirds of the unmarried families with children are a female householder with no husband present. There are 25,550 female householders in Central Minnesota, with have an average median income of $37,890, more than $10,000 short of the cost to meet basic needs in the region for just one parent and one child ($48,804). If the family has more children or has an unmarried partner, the cost increases accordingly.

Male householders with children and no wife have significantly higher incomes than female householders, with an average median income around $57,290. Only a third of unmarried families with children are in this category, comprising about 13,420 households (see Figure 1).

Unfortunately, the data do not allow for a deeper understanding of the nuances of people living in each household at the regional level. However, it’s likely that national trends also apply to a significant extent in Central Minnesota, where the vast majority of children younger than 18 who live with an unmarried parent are living with a single mom. This makes intuitive sense based on the low incomes that reflect a single earner (not necessarily female) households and not dual incomes from unmarried, cohabitating parents.

Bar chart showing percentage of families with children living in poverty, by types of family, for more information contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or 

Thirty percent of solo mothers are living in poverty, a higher share than among unmarried cohabitating parents, who are typically younger and less educated. Nationwide about one-in-five children are living with a single mother.

Economic constraints at home impact other aspects of life, including the ability to maintain stable employment. Strategies to maximize labor force participation must consider how these socioeconomic factors impact current employment and the future workforce. For more information about the Pew Research Center data, check out this article:


For more information contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or