Gaps of the Day: Unemployment rates


Having documented Minnesota’s test score and graduation gaps, we’re now going to look at other equity gaps in Minnesota. We’ll start with some economic gaps.

To start us off, here are the black-white and Hispanic-white gaps in unemployment rates:

(Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Minnesota has been doing better on unemployment than the national average for quite a while now. As with education, however, that high average performance masks some equity gaps that should still concern Minnesotans. As a reminder, equity gaps are an absolute problem; our urgency in addressing them shouldn’t depend on how big they are relative to other states.

In the case of the unemployment rate, Minnesota has the 13th largest gap between whites and blacks, and the 20th largest gap between whites and Hispanics. Our white unemployment rate is the 12th lowest in the country, our black unemployment rate is the 20th lowest, and our Hispanic unemployment rate is the 17th lowest. (North Dakota has the lowest white unemployment rate, while Nevada has the highest. New Mexico has the lowest black unemployment rate, and Maine has the lowest. Virginia has the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate, and Rhode Island has the highest.)

Of course, the unemployment rate on its own is an incomplete measure of economic equity. It depends on the labor force participation rate, which is another place where inequities can arise. One also has to consider how much people are being paid for their work, if and when they find it. Just as no one measure can capture the full picture of educational equity, no one measure can capture the full picture of economic equity. That’s why we’ll continue to explore this area in more detail in future graphs.

Minnesota should work for all Minnesotans. We’re not there yet, and we won’t get there unless progressives keep these issues at the front of the agenda.