4/16/2018 10:09:32 AM
Luke Greiner, Mark Schultz
As part of regional planning efforts, local Workforce Investment Boards have been taking a much closer look at the racial and ethnic diversity of their regions. This includes analysis of the region's changing demographics, the importance of immigration, and industry employment trends. The 23-county Southwest Minnesota planning region has seen steady employment growth in recent years, finally appearing to regain all of the jobs lost during the recession.
According to data from the Census Bureau's Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) program, there were a total of 179,454 jobs reported in Southwest Minnesota in the second quarter of 2017, which was just above the 179,062 jobs posted in the second quarter of 2007, and well above the low of 171,834 jobs the region sunk to in the second quarter of 2010. From 2007 to 2010, Southwest Minnesota lost 7,228 jobs; then from 2010 to 2017, the region added back 7,620 jobs (Figure 1).
Since the region's population is still relatively non-diverse, the QWI data show that 94 percent of jobs in the region were held by white workers, with the other 6 percent filled by workers of other races. In the second quarter of 2017, that equated to 10,780 jobs. However, removing the white population from the employment chart shows the significant impact that workers of other races are having in the Southwest Minnesota economy (Figure 2).
The 10,780 jobs held by workers of other races was up from 6,883 jobs in the second quarter of 2007, an increase of almost 3,900 net new jobs, a 56.6 percent jump. In comparison, the region's economy added just 392 jobs total, a 0.2 percent rise.
But that doesn't tell the whole story, because the largest minority group in Southwest Minnesota was people of Hispanic or Latino origin, who primarily identify as white rather than another race (in 2017, 90 percent of jobs held by workers who reported being of Hispanic or Latino origin also identified as white). The number of jobs held by Hispanic or Latino workers surged 34.6 percent from 2007 to 2017, a net gain of 2,739 jobs (Figure 3).
Combined, workers of other races and of Hispanic or Latino origin now held 11.3 percent of jobs in Southwest Minnesota, or 1 in every 9 jobs. That was up from 7.7 percent of jobs in 2007, or one in every 13 jobs just 10 years ago. Though still less diverse than the state as a whole, the region matched the state's rate of job growth for minority workers from 2007 to 2017, clearly showing the significant impact that workers of other races and origins are having in Southwest Minnesota.