Unemployment improvement not equal for all Minnesotans

While the unemployment rate is improving statewide, some Minnesotans aren’t heading in that direction.

In fact, there was so much improvement from April to May, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) reported that the unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 2% — but in that same time frame, unemployment for Black Minnesotans increased from 6.7% to 6.9%.

“We have in Minnesota, what you call the great contradiction, record unemployment, you know, low unemployment, but we still have the greatest disparities,” Emma Corrie, president and CEO of Twin Cities R!SE (TCR), said.

Through training and what they call “Personal Empowerment”, TCR helps people find work and “transform the lives of those impacted by racial or socio-economic barriers.”

The focus of their work is within communities of color.

“To reengage our disengaged communities, it will take coaching, it will take care, it will take personal empowerment, and it will take skills training,” Corrie added about what she calls “gaps” between employers and employees.  

After sharing the news of the record unemployment, Commissioner of DEED Steve Grove also spoke to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS about the work to address these disparities.

“We have to focus dollars and services towards those communities that face deeper challenges to help them connect more quickly to jobs in our state,” Grove said.

The of work of TCR, a nonprofit, is proof of that. One of its community outreach coordinators, Travona Newell, was once a hairstylist and was in a rut after becoming unemployed during the pandemic.

“[It was] a little discouraging. Especially because I really felt like I had transferable skills that could be transitioned into those settings,” Newell said about trying to find work, adding “I just kept feeling like I was being rejected over and over again.”

Newell went through TCR’s program and is now using her passion to help others find work to build her career .

“I just want to see people with moving forward, finding their voices, knowing their value, feeling empowered, and being employed to have sustainable livable wages for their families and for their future generations to come,” Newell said.

You can learn more about how TCR can help here.