A study released by the Economic Policy Institute on Tuesday shows that the Minneapolis metropolitan area has the “worst relative disparity” in employment based on race among the country’s fifty largest metropolitan areas. The region’s black population is three times more likely than its white counterparts to be facing unemployment. The study’s authors say that educational attainment does not appear to be a factor in the inequalities.
The unemployment rate for blacks was 20.4 percent in the region – the second highest in the country after Detroit – while unemployment among whites was 6.6 percent. The difference in the two rates, 13.8 percent, is the highest in the country by 3 percent. Memphis had the next highest disparity at 10.5 percent.
“[T]he Minneapolis metropolitan area stands out as having the worst relative disparity,” the authors wrote. “The Minneapolis metropolitan area has a black-white unemployment ratio of 3.1 to 1. This means that blacks are 3.1 times as likely to be unemployed as whites. Additionally, the black-white difference in unemployment is almost 14 percentage points.”
The authors looked at levels of education as a possible reason, and ruled it out.
We can see that education is not the only explanation for the high relative unemployment rates of blacks by examining the unemployment rates for blacks and whites with similar levels of education in Minneapolis. In 2008 in the Minneapolis metro area, ACS data show that blacks with comparable levels of education as whites are much more likely to be unemployed. For example, African Americans with a high school diploma or GED were three times as likely to be unemployed as whites with the same level of education. Even if blacks had the exact same educational profile as whites in Minneapolis, they would still have a much higher unemployment rate (see also Austin 2008).