Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 21, 2012

New Construction Hiring Goals for Women and Minorities Reflect Minnesota's Changing Demographics

Contractors on state-funded construction projects will soon be subject to revised goals that more accurately reflect Minnesota's increasing diversity, and could result in hiring more female and minority employees.

"The Governor has made jobs his number one priority, and laid out a bold vision for getting Minnesota back to work," said Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights Kevin Lindsey in announcing the revised goals. "While unemployment remains a reality for 168,000 Minnesotans from all races and backgrounds, the jobless rate for minorities is disproportionately alarming. These updated hiring goals will ensure that all Minnesotans have a chance to compete for job opportunities as our economy continues to regain strength."

The goals are based on an analysis of demographic data from the American Community Survey (ACS) for 2006-2010, conducted by State Demographer Susan Brower. The ACS collects data on employment, race, disability status and gender (among other topics), and is now the only source of Equal Employment Opportunity data produced by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Commissioner also took into consideration information provided by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry concerning apprentices in the construction workforce.

The new goals target minority participation in state-funded contracts in the metro area, including Hennepin and Ramsey counties and cities within those counties, at 32 percent. The goal for minority participation in state-funded contracts in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington Counties will be 22 percent. The goal for female participation in the entire seven-county area will be 6 percent. The goals apply to contracts in excess of $100,000 and to employers with more than 40 full time employees.

Since 1985, state law has required the Commissioner of the Department of Human Rights to issue goals and timetables for minority and female utilization in state-funded construction projects. "The purpose for these goals is to communicate to employers that when they choose to contract for business with the State of Minnesota there is an expectation that they will employ a diverse work force," explained Melanie Miles, MDHR Contract Compliance Supervisor.

The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have ordinances that require minority and female goals for construction project in their cities, and there are also federal requirements. But increasingly, many construction projects may involve more than one jurisdiction, and contracts with multiple government entities.

The Department of Human Rights worked in collaboration with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights and the St. Paul Department of Human Rights to ensure that the same goals would be used by each of the agencies. "The fact that the goals are metro-wide will ensure that the same standards are used by multiple agencies in the seven-county area, and makes it easier for contractors to know what is required whether they are competing for state, county or municipal contracts," said Miles.

Luz Maria Frias, Director of the Saint Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, supports Governor Dayton's newly announced Affirmative Action goals. "Our local workforce should reflect our communities. The new hiring goals reflect the changing nature of our cities, and provide an effective tool to combat the disparity gap," Frias said.

"It just makes sense that it's time to update the workforce goals — we haven't done so since 2006," said Velma Korbel, Director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. "And I think it will be good for minorities and women in the region, because it will require that contractors hire women and minorities at the rate that they are represented in the labor force."

For state-funded contracts in greater Minnesota — counties and cities outside the seven-county area — previous goals for female and minority hiring will remain in effect until additional U.S. Census data is available. Additional data for these regions is expected by December of this year. As new data is released, specific updated goals will be established for Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester and other major cities, as well as specific counties, in greater Minnesota.

There are currently no disability goals for state contractors, but that may change in the future, according to Commissioner Lindsey. In the past, it has been difficult to obtain disability data comparable to the census data used to set goals for minorities and females. New data from American Community Survey (ACS) has addressed that shortcoming.

"We now have data that would allow us to set disability goals," said Lindsey. However, the Commissioner of Human Rights does not currently have the legal authority to set goals for disability. "We are considering seeking a statute change or a rule change that would allow us to set disability goals for construction projects," Lindsey said. "Individuals with disabilities continue to face unnecessary hurdles in the job market, particularly in tough times. They deserve to have a fair and equitable opportunity to participate in our state's economy."

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For more information contact: Jeff Holman at 651-539-1090, jeff.holman@state.mn.us

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