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Minnesota's Black Labor Force: An analysis of demographic, economic, and educational trends and disparities


September 1, 2022

Economic disparities between people of color and people from the white community are notable in Minnesota and across the country. Black Americans in particular face some of the deepest disparities in our country and state, as foundational systemic barriers to prosperity persist.

As policymakers, community leaders, businesses, and workforce leaders develop approaches to address and remove these barriers, one thing we hear consistently at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is that disaggregated data by race is essential. Understanding the demographic trends and scope of disparities is an important tool for developing stronger solutions to these persistent issues.

In response to significant requests from the community, DEED released a report yesterday that includes this disaggregated data on the status of the Black and African American labor force in Minnesota. This analysis offers a look at some of the major demographic, economic, and educational trends and disparities in the Black and African American community in Minnesota.

Yesterday the Star Tribune published an editorial authored by Stephanie Burrage, deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education, Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion, and myself, which highlights the report and how our agencies are focused on eliminating these disparities.

At DEED, we are accelerating our work to address disparities around five racial equity commitments to reduce systemic barriers to equitable growth. That includes driving more funding to historically underserved populations; reforming government programs that have left out Black workers and business owners for too long; and launching concerted outreach and engagement programs for Black workers and Black-owned businesses across the state.

We are deeply committed to these efforts – and acknowledge the work is very much in progress. And "progress" has many variables, both within and outside of our control – including legislative decisions and administrative actions. But we're focusing on the data plus the actions we can control, and we believe the more transparent we are about our journey, the greater the benefit will be – not just for the Black and African American community in Minnesota, but for all Minnesotans.


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