Deep racial disparities in unemployment persist in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities have the highest level of racial disparity in unemployment in the country, according to a study released on Monday. The Economic Policy Institute found that African-Americans in the Twin Cities metropolitan area were 3.3 times as likely to be unemployed as whites in 2011 – the highest level of disparity among 19 major metropolitan areas in the nation.

Unfortunately, this high level of unemployment disparity between blacks and whites in our area is not new. Two years ago we blogged on an EPI study finding that back then the Twin Cities also had the highest level of unemployment disparity among 18 major metropolitan areas.

Even though unemployment for African-Americans in the Twin Cities declined from 21.0 percent to 17.7 percent between 2010 and 2011, it hasn’t helped narrow the disparity between blacks and whites. Overall unemployment in the metropolitan area also declined during that period of time, but fell from a much lower 7.2 percent in 2010 to just 6.4 percent in 2011.

It is disturbing to know that significant unemployment disparities continue to persist in the Twin Cities – and even more distressing to again find ourselves at the top of the list nationally. The situation has not improved even as unemployment rates begin to decline, reminding us that the sources of this disparity are deep-rooted and it will take more than an economic recovery to turn things around.

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Christina Wessel's picture
Christina Wessel

Christina Wessel has been with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits since 2001. She is now deputy director of the Minnesota Budget Project.