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Current Work Addressing Disparities

The U.S. Department of Labor requires each state to submit a five-year unified plan outlining the state’s workforce system needs and goals. According to Minnesota’s unified plan, submitted in 2012, one of Governor Mark Dayton’s seven priorities for economic development is to “close the educational achievement and employment gap in Minnesota by working to end disparities, including but not limited to those based on race, ethnicity, class, disability and place”.

Local Workforce Councils (also known as Workforce Service Areas) in turn submit Local Unified Plans to the state, in which they are asked to identify employment disparities in their local area and report how they are addressing those disparities.

While the most common employment disparity identified by local areas is racial, disparities by age, educational attainment, and refugee status are also identified. Most areas report addressing these disparities through dedicated grants targeting communities of color, such as MFIP, FastTRAC, or Adult Workforce Development grants. Most areas in the seven-county Twin Cities metro region report participation in Everybody In, a concerted, metro-wide effort to close the racial employment gap (See Note 1).

Many areas also report addressing disparities through cooperation with other WSAs in the Minnesota Workforce Council Association, which in its 2014 state legislative platform includes addressing racial disparities as one of its key priorities.

Additionally, the state-funded Dislocated Worker program revised part of its funding formula in June of 2013 to provide financial incentive to independent non-profit providers for serving long-term unemployed participants and participants of color. After a two-year transition period to collect sufficient performance data, the first new allocations using this formula went out July 2015.

In business development, the Urban Initiative Loan Program existed to support the growth of minority-owned and operated businesses and to create jobs in economically depressed areas of the Twin Cities. Since lending began in 1995, the fund made more than 700 loans totaling more than $16 million, and 81% of businesses have been minority-owned.


  1. See Everybody In: A Report to Reduce Racial Employment Disparities in the Ramsey County Metropolitan Area for more information on this effort.
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