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State advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights releases report co-authored by students, professors on unemployment disparity in Minnesota

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The Minnesota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has released a new report co-authored by students and professors from the University of St. Thomas School of Law that examines the underlying causes of racial disparity in unemployment in Minnesota and recommendations for change.

The report encompasses perspectives from experts across various sectors, including business, government, community organizations, the faith community, and nonprofits, and highlights current trends that contribute to racial disparities, and ways to close unemployment gaps between blacks and whites in the region; which are amongst the worst in the nation.

The report follows two major reports that have been released in Minnesota in recent years to explore growing disparities between whites and people of color in Minnesota in income and employment. The first is a 2005 report by the Itasca Project and the Brookings Institute called “Mind the Gap,” and the second is a report that was released in 2011 by the Ramsey County Blue Ribbon Commission entitled, “Everybody In.” Like previous reports, this report examines the demographic shifts occurring in the state of Minnesota and their impacts on current employment opportunities and future workforce preparedness; and the challenges that exist regarding educational attainment for African Americans in Minnesota.

This report also provides an in-depth analysis on topics that have not yet been fully explored in other reports, such as the benefits of increasing access to government contracting opportunities; increasing access to capital for small and minority-owned businesses; and the impacts of arrest records and criminal justice contacts on African-American employment prospects. While metropolitan areas across the nation are grappling with similar challenges, the group’s research indicates that some of the issues that have resulted in intolerably high unemployment rates for African Americans unique to Minnesota and the Twin Cities Metro area.

Some of the potential causes for the disparity outlined in the report include the use of screening tools such as criminal background checks in the hiring process, and barriers to awarding contracts to small, minority-owned businesses. Although this report addresses challenges in Minnesota, it contains instructive information for all jurisdictions.

The full report is available at www.usccr.gov/pubs/MNSAC_Unemployment_Final_3.pdf.

The State Advisory Committees to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
By law, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has established an advisory committee in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The committees are composed of state citizens who serve without compensation. The committees advise the Commission of civil rights issues in their states that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction. More specifically, they are authorized to advise the Commission on matters of their state’s concern in the preparation of Commission reports to the President and the Congress; receive reports, suggestions, and recommendations from individuals, public officials, and representatives of public and private organizations to committee inquiries; forward advice and recommendations to the Commission, as requested; and observe any open hearing or conference conducted by the Commission in their states.

State Advisory Committee Reports
This report is the work of the Minnesota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The report, which may rely on studies and data generated by third parties, is not subject to an independent review by the Commission staff. The views expressed in this report and the findings and recommendations contained herein are those of a majority of the Minnesota Advisory Committee members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission or its individual members, nor do they represent the policies of the U.S. government.

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