Twin Cities has far and away the largest black-white unemployment gap, says new study

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Last year, nearly 18 percent of Twin Cities blacks were unemployed, compared to under 6 percent of whites.
Last year, 17.7 percent of blacks living in the Twin Cities were unemployed. That's significantly down from 21 percent in 2010, but still high enough to earn our metro a dubious distinction -- the unemployment gap between blacks and whites in the Twin Cities is higher than any other major metro in the country, according to a study conducted by the D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

The unemployment rate for blacks here is 3.1 times higher than the white rate. Second-worst honors go to Baltimore, where the gap is merely 2.6 unemployed backs for each unemployed white.

This isn't the first time the Twin Cities has earned this dubious distinction. The black-white gap was also largest here two years ago. Last year, Milwaukee "won" top honors, but that was due to a fluke. According to MPR, last year's study accidentally included Milwaukee, which is too small to provide reliable data, in the 19-metro data set.

Kevin Lindsay, Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner, told the Star Tribune the finding doesn't surprise him. "There is still going to be a significant disparity that will not change overnight," he said. But he noted things his department has done to address the problem, including doubling or tripling minority hiring goals for construction projects.

Researcher Algernon Austin told MPR a big part of the problem can be traced back to disparities in educational attainment.

"The whites are sort of above average for whites. The blacks are doing somewhat below average for blacks," Austin said. "And lower education attainment, higher unemployment rate. So you see this huge disparity."

Echoing Lindsay's remarks, Minneapolis Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel said it will take time for the Twin Cities to significantly reduce the black-white employment gap.

"You don't fix a problem that is that significant in a year. You just don't and it would be unrealistic to think that you can," she said. "But what we have been doing is being very deliberate about attacking the problem and making incremental progress."

Whatever progress has been made, it hasn't yet showed up in the statistics.

See also:
-- Michael Grover says he was fired from St. Paul baseball coaching job because he's not Asian
-- Menards settles race discrimination case brought by black employees

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