City Council approves new strategies to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in employment

The Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution Aug. 31 supporting equity in employment along with a series of actions to eliminate the racial and ethnic disparities in employment in Minneapolis and the entire region. The Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro region has among the highest employment disparities in the country, with African Americans 3.3 times more likely to be unemployed as whites in the Twin Cities.  

The approved actions to eliminate the disparities in employment in Minneapolis and the region include:

Addressing racial disparities in employment has long been a priority of the City of Minneapolis. In 2008, the City established a steering committee specifically designed to identify and implement tangible steps that could be taken to address this disparity. In December 2011, Mayor Rybak and the City Council adopted the 2012 budget that funds the One Minneapolis initiative, and in January 2012, the Council established key benchmarks that make progress toward eliminating the disparities gap, with a goal of reducing the unemployment gap by 25 percent by 2016.

One of the most successful aspects of One Minneapolis is the RENEW initiative. Initially funded by economic-recovery dollars, RENEW trains and places people who have faced challenges finding employment in green-economy jobs. To date, close to 500 people have been trained through RENEW, and two-thirds have been placed in good, green jobs.

The City is also training young people to join the workforce. Since the STEP-UP program started in 2004, almost 16,000 Minneapolis young people have been placed in good-paying summer jobs with most of the city's best companies and nonprofits. More than 85 percent of STEP-UP participants have been kids of color.  This year the City began a new leadership development program called Urban Scholars that introduces college students from diverse backgrounds to careers in the public sector. Eight students completed the program, three of whom were STEP-UP interns.  This program creates a pipeline of experienced professionals for the public sector which is critical in light of the number of people positioned to retire from City government in the next four years and to increasing diversity in the City.

Published Aug 31, 2012