Minneapolis officials aren’t shrinking from acknowledging the city has a big minority unemployment rate problem.
The Economic Policy Institute study last year found Minneapolis and Memphis rank at the top of 50 metro areas studied for having the widest gap between minority and white unemployment.
The minority rate exceeds 20 percent, the rate for whites is about seven percent.
The local advisory panel to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission heard from former Hennepin County judge Pamela Alexander (pictured above), among others, who said Minnesota is the land of “perpetual punishment”.
African Americans are disproportionately represented in Minnesota’s criminal justice system, and Alexander says the state is a leader in enacting barriers to employment for people with a record, worsening the unemployment problem.
State demographer Tom Gillaspy offered what sounded like hope when he said there’s a bunch of jobs coming open as the Boomers retire.
But in the next breath, Gillaspy says the people including minorities who could and should be stepping into those jobs in too many cases don’t have the skills for them.
The ray of hope continues to be youth work training programs including the one run by Minneapolis in cooperation with businesses for minority youth which is being expanded to include thousands more young people.