Ramsey Releases Plan to Tackle Employment Disparity

A new 64-page report outlines ways to reduce racial employment disparity in the Twin Cities, which reportedly has the highest such disparity among the nation's largest metro areas.

In response to recent reports indicating that the Twin Cities metro area has one of the highest racial employment disparities in the nation, a newly formed commission on Wednesday released a plan to reduce such disparities in Ramsey County and the surrounding area over the next five years.

The City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and the Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board in February appointed a commission to look at ways to reduce racial employment disparities. What resulted was a just-released report-“Everybody In: A Report to Reduce Racial Employment Disparities in the Ramsey County Metropolitan Area.” The commission comprised of 20 business, nonprofit, education, and foundation representatives.

The commission's suggestions include linking existing efforts with state-level programs and legislation, increasing the number of legislative bills that eliminate racial employment disparities, accurately tracking employment statistics, increasing education and career development opportunities, and engaging CEOs of corporations such as Xcel Energy, Lawson Software, and Thomson Reuters in a public-awareness campaign.

A September Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report indicated that the jobless rate for African Americans in the Twin Cities was 24 percent, compared to just 6 percent for whites-giving the area the highest racial disparity in unemployment among the country's largest cities.

The EPI reported similar numbers last year. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the area's 2010 African American jobless rate to be 22 percent-3.4 times the white rate of 6.4 percent.

The commission's report offers suggestions that aim to reduce unemployment rates for racial, ethnic, and cultural communities by 20 percent each year between 2011-2012 and 2015-2016. The suggestions specifically target ways to boost employment levels for African Americans and American Indians.

“An equal opportunity for success is crucial to the future of our city,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement. “Whether it's closing the achievement gap or ensuring racial equity in the workplace, we must continue to find ways to address inequalities.”

To read the commission's full report, click here.