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Report: Race is the driving factor behind economic gaps in the Twin Cities

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Race and ethnicity are driving disparities in the Twin Cities more than any other demographic trait, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Council – the policy-making and planning agency that oversees the Twin Cities metro – found that even if black residents in the Twin Cities have the same other attributes (age, immigrant status, English skills, educational attainment, among other factors) as their white counterparts, they are still at an economic disadvantage, a news release says.

“These findings confirm long-held beliefs about the presence and persistence of structural racism in our Twin Cities community,” Council Chair Adam Duininck said in the release. “Disparities related to race or ethnicity are unconscionable and unacceptable. We can and must do better.”

Homeownership

Black residents' homeownership rate, employment rate and average hourly wage is still lower than that of white residents, the report found.

That's especially the case with homeownership, which has one of the largest disparities between blacks and whites. When adjusting for demographic factors, the homeownership rate for black households increases from 24.7 percent to 48.1 percent – but that's still well below the 75.7 percent rate for white households.

There are also disparities between Latinos and whites and Asians and whites, the report found. When adjusted for the differences in demographic profile, the gaps in homeownership, employment and hourly wage somewhat closed between the racial groups.

Employment rates

Here's a look at the disparities in employment rates:

Hourly wages

And average hourly wages:

Gaps put state's economic future at risk

The Met Council, as well as Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, say these opportunity gaps affecting people in the Twin Cities and across the state are putting Minnesota's economic future at risk.

People of color make up about 25 percent of the Twin Cities metro population, according to Met Council, and by 2040 people of color will account for more than 40 percent.

That has officials warning that if the economic disparities aren't eliminated, the metro's overall economic competitiveness could be affected, the report says.

“As a region, we’ve got a long way to go toward closing these gaps. They hold us back from our ability to grow and thrive as a region," Duininck said in the release.

Dayton calls for urgent action

This has Dayton calling for urgent action to reduce racial disparities, saying the inequities affecting Minnesotans of color "require additional state investments immediately," according to an email news release.

"I urge all legislators to read this study and commit themselves to addressing these needs," Dayton said. He's asked legislators to read Met Council's report and "commit themselves to addressing these needs."

Dayton's talked about this issue before. In his supplemental budget, Dayton included $100 million to close the opportunity gaps – that money would focus on homeownership, adult and youth workforce training, business development and funding for education.

Last week, the governor said he supported proposals laid out by black community leaders to close the equity gap.

And on Monday, a new state Senate subcommittee that's dedicated to fixing racial disparitiesmet for the first time, and heard 19 different bills, including those that would create grant programs to help African-American businesses.

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