The Twin Cities has yet another gap to add to our growing list–the job gap. According to a recent article in the Star Tribune “Twin Cities jobless gap worst in nation”, the jobless rate of blacks is more than three times that of whites in our state.
Randy Furst, the author, explores a few reasons why our jobless gap is the worst in the nation in his article Twin Cities jobless gap worst in nation.” I do not doubt any of them.
Based on my experience as a job counselor at a non-profit in North Minneapolis, I would add though, that areas like North Minneapolis also have very few employment opportunities. I would even describe the area as a job desert. People living here must travel far (often to suburbs) to places where the jobs are and if Metro Transit is the only mode of transport, this can be a long and difficult daily commute (read: at least 1.5 hours).
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As for those of us who still don’t think racism plays a role in the gaps that we face, please think again! There were so many times that I (as a job counselor) would ask clients to call an employer who had a Help Wanted sign in their window. When any black clients called, that employer would say they are no longer hiring. When I (a white person) called, the employer would happily describe the position to me in detail.
Yes, racism is alive and thriving. As an old friend of mine used to say, “we’re not yet holding hands and singing Kumbaya in Minnesota.” No, we are not-but it is up to us to make it happen.