Report: Huge Disparities Among Mpls.’ Racial Groups

A new report from the Minneapolis Foundation shows dramatic differences between Minneapolis residents of differing races and ethnicities-disparities that begin at an early age and affect education, jobs, housing, and other aspects of life.

The disparities between racial and ethnic groups in Minneapolis start at a young age and can influence residents' educational opportunities and, ultimately, the city's work force, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minneapolis Foundation.

For the report, called One Minneapolis, the foundation commissioned St. Paul-based Wilder Research to examine data “either created by or broadly embraced by local experts.”

The foundation says it “uncovered shocking differences in how Minneapolis residents are faring on the most essential indicators of a healthy and productive life.”

The report indicates that disparities begin at an early age. For example, more than half of the American Indian, Asian, and African-American children in the city are currently living in poverty. In fact, black children account for half of all Minneapolis children in poverty.

Among many other findings pertaining to the early stages of education, the report states that only about one-third of kindergarteners who speak Spanish in their homes are properly prepared to begin school. Across all grades in 2010, American Indians were least likely to have strong attendance, followed by black students. Asian students, meanwhile, are most likely to attend class regularly, according to the report.

Among students in the city who could have graduated high school on time in 2009, only about 44 percent did-and white students are twice as likely to graduate on time as students of color. For example, in 2009, one in five American Indian students, one in four Hispanic students, and one in three black students graduated on time-compared to six in 10 Asian students and seven in 10 white students.

Post-high school, 61 percent of Minneapolis Public School graduates enrolled directly in a post-secondary institution in 2010-college rates are highest for white graduates (73 percent) and Asian graduates (67 percent), followed by black graduates (56 percent). Less than half of the Hispanic and American Indian students who graduate from the city's public schools enter college immediately.

“Our ability to compete as a 21st century city and economic engine for the state depends on everyone fully participating in our work force and benefiting from our shared quality of life,” but racial disparities “severely curtail our chances for regional vitality and run counter to our values of fairness and opportunity,” the report states.

It also points out that the recession has greatly affected Minneapolis residents, and while the supply of affordable rental units has grown, it's short of demand-and an increasing portion of residents put more than 30 percent of their incomes toward housing costs.

Regarding the city's work force, roughly 60 percent of Minneapolis residents are white, but 83 percent of jobs in the city are filled by white workers.Among U.S. metro areas, the Twin Cities has one of the highest employment rates-but it also has one of the largest gaps in employment between whites and certain racial groups, namely, U.S.-born blacks and American Indians.

“We're at risk of creating a two-tiered society and losing billions in wealth, resources, and potential,” Minneapolis Foundation President and CEO Sandra Vargas and Board Chair Lynn Casey wrote in an introductory letter to the report.

The foundation describes the report as “instructive.” Casey and Vargas wrote that “what's encouraging about this report-amidst the abundance of bad news-is that these numbers give us some direction. By learning exactly how each community is faring, we can start to ask the questions that will lead us to real solutions.”

To learn more about the report's methodology and to download a complete copy, click here.