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A Closer Look at Employment

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 3:43 PM

The Minnesota unemployment rate and job figures get a lot of attention when they are announced on the third Thursday of every month, frequently attracting front-page newspaper coverage statewide. Reporters and economists analyze the numbers and interpret what they say about the economy. While there are plenty of other ways to look at our economic performance, the monthly unemployment rate and job figures are arguably the most closely watched barometer in Minnesota.

A story in the latest issue of Trends magazine takes an even closer look at those numbers, breaking down the Minnesota unemployment rate by race, gender, education and other characteristics not found in the monthly figures. Rachel Vilsack’s story, “Unemployment Under a Microscope,” looks at the 2012 “Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment,” a federal report that comes out every August with an in-depth breakdown of the labor force in each state and in major metropolitan areas.

While stark differences remain in Minnesota unemployment rates by race and ethnicity, the 2012 figures show that joblessness for all groups declined last year. According to the story, the average unemployment rate in Minnesota last year was 5.8 percent. A further breakdown of those numbers showed the following:

  • Average unemployment rate for men: 6.2 percent.
  • Average unemployment rate for women: 5.3 percent.
  • Average unemployment rate for whites: 5.2 percent.
  • Average unemployment rate for Hispanics or Latinos: 8.5 percent.
  • Average unemployment rate for Asians: 5.8 percent.
  • Average unemployment rate for African Americans: 13.8 percent.

While unemployment rates for some minority groups, particularly African Americans, remain high, the numbers are a marked improvement from just a few years earlier. The African American unemployment rate hit 22.5 percent in the state during the height of the recession in 2009, but it has since declined significantly. The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate topped out at 15.5 percent in 2009, declining by almost half since then.

Undoubtedly, we still have more work to do, but the latest report is an encouraging sign, showing the state is making progress in closing the unemployment gap. You can read the full story here.

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