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Minnesota's Diversifying Workforce

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By Tim O'Neill
March 2022

Minnesota's economy and workforce continue to grow more racially and ethnically diverse over time, as evidenced by data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) program. While COVID-19 had a significant impact on employment and labor force participation over the past two years, it did not change the state's trend toward increasing diversity. The following article will highlight Minnesota's total and industry employment by race and ethnicity, how such employment has changed over the past decade, and how the state compares with other states in the nation.

Quarterly Workforce Indicators

QWI data is readily available online through the QWI Explorer tool. This data comes from a combination of state labor market information and Census Bureau information.1 More specifically, state labor market information agencies supply data from unemployment insurance wage records and from businesses each quarter, and this data is then merged with current demographic information from the Census Bureau. Key inputs include Unemployment Insurance Earnings Data, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Business Dynamics Statistics, recent census data, the American Community Survey, Social Security administrative records, and more.

The QWI Explorer provides local labor market statistics by industry, worker demographics, employer age, and employer size. Specific worker demographics available include age, sex, educational attainment, and race and ethnicity. While there were fascinating changes seen in those other demographic characteristics as well, this article will focus on annual 2010 and 2020 worker statistics by race and ethnicity. Additionally, annual data in this article is averaged from beginning-of-quarter employment counts, which reflect short-term job declines due to COVID-19, but long-term growth.

Minnesota's Workforce by Race and Ethnicity

Minnesota's Employment by RaceAccording to QWI data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Minnesota had an average of 2,726,754 jobs across the four quarters in 2020. Broken down by race, nearly six-in-seven jobs (85.0%) were held by persons reporting as white. Black or African Americans accounted for 6.6% of the state's jobs, Asian or Other Pacific Islanders held 5.6% of the state's jobs, those reporting Two or More Races accounted for 1.9% of the state's jobs, and 0.9% of Minnesota's jobs were held by those reporting as American Indian or Alaska Native (Figure 1). Altogether, those persons reporting as a race other than white held 15.0% of Minnesota's total jobs in 2020, equivalent to approximately 409,600 jobs. In addition, those persons reporting Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race) held 5.1% of Minnesota's jobs in 2020, equivalent to approximately 138,400 jobs.

While the majority of Minnesota's total jobs are held by workers reporting as white, recent and historical trends show the state's workforce is becoming increasingly diverse with each year. Those workers reporting as Black or African American, for example, held 2.6% of the state's total jobs in 1995. This increased to 3.6% in 2000, to 4.5% in 2010, and to 6.6% in 2020. Those workers reporting as Asian or Other Pacific Islander, as well as those reporting Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, witnessed both of their respective shares of statewide jobs held increase from about 2.0% in 1995 to over 5.0% in 2020 (Figure 2). While those reporting Two or More Races and American Indian or Alaska Natives make up smaller respective shares of statewide employment, both have experienced faster growth in the past decade than workers reporting as white. The share of jobs held by white workers in Minnesota has fallen from 93.9% in 1995, to 91.8% in 2000, to 89.5% in 2010, and to 85.0% in 2020.

Share of Minnesota Employment by Race other than White and Ethnicity

Minnesota's Population by Race and Ethnicity

For context, it's helpful to see how Minnesota's population has also been changing by race and ethnicity over the same timeframe. The majority of Minnesotans are white, but the share has fallen from 89.4% in 2000 to 77.5% in 2020. The percent of residents who are Black or African American doubled from 3.5% to 7.0% in 2020, while people of Two or More Races increased more than 300% and now account for 6.1% of the population. Similarly, there are also about 345,000 Hispanic or Latino residents in the state, up more than 140% since 2000. Asian or Other Pacific Islanders doubled and comprise 5.3% of Minnesota's residents, while people of Some Other Race saw a huge increase in the past decade and now account for 3.0%. American Indian and Alaska Natives are the smallest race category in the state, but after growing about 25% over the past decades, account for 1.2% of the state's total population (Table 1).

Table 1. Minnesota Population by Race and Ethnicity

  2000 Population 2010 Population 2020 Population 2000-2020
Population Change
Numeric Share Numeric Share Numeric Share
White 4,400,282 89.4% 4,573,199 86.1% 4,423,146 77.5% +22,864 +0.5%
Black or African American 171,731 3.5% 273,680 5.2% 398,434 7.0% +226,703 +132.0%
American Indian & Alaska Native 54,967 1.1% 57,270 1.1% 68,641 1.2% +13,674 +24.9%
Asian or Other Pacific Islanders 143,947 2.9% 211,912 4.0% 302,108 5.3% +158,161 +109.9%
Some Other Race 65,810 1.3% 66,664 1.3% 168,444 3.0% +102,634 +156.0%
Two or More Race Groups 82,742 1.7% 127,859 2.4% 345,721 6.1% +262,979 +317.8%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 143,382 2.9% 248,297 4.7% 345,640 6.1% +202,258 +141.1%
 Total Population 4,919,479   5,310,584   5,706,494   +787,015 +16.0%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Growth Before the Pandemic

Even with the pandemic-related recession, due to the economic growth through 2019 Minnesota's total employment still increased by 7.8% from 2010 to 2020. This was equivalent to approximately 196,800 additional jobs. At a more detailed level, the number of jobs held by those reporting as white increased by 2.4% during this time (approximately 54,000 jobs), while jobs held by those reporting as a race other than white increased by 53.5% (approximately 142,800 jobs). Minnesota's economy would not have been able to expand without a growing labor force, one that is also becoming more diverse.

Looking at this another way, where those reporting as a race other than white accounted for 15.0% of Minnesota's total employment in 2020, they accounted for 72.5% of the jobs gained between 2010 and 2020. Black or African American workers witnessed the largest numeric increase in jobs held between 2010 and 2020 (approximately 67,000 jobs), while those reporting Two or More Races witnessed the largest percent increase in jobs held (+62.4%). Jobs held by workers reporting Hispanic or Latino ethnicity (of any race) increased by 54.0% between 2010 and 2020 (approximately 48,500 jobs) (Table 2).

Table 2. Minnesota Employment by Race and Ethnicity, 2010 – 2020

Population 2020 Employment 2010 Employment 2010 – 2020
Employment Change
Jobs Share Jobs Share Numeric Percent
Total, All 2,726,754 100.0% 2,529,963 100.0% +196,791 +7.8%
White 2,317,184 85.0% 2,263,153 89.5% +54,031 +2.4%
Black or African American 180,601 6.6% 113,594 4.5% +67,007 +59.0%
American Indian or Alaska Native 25,344 0.9% 20,629 0.8% +4,715 +22.9%
Asian or Other Pacific Islander 152,275 5.6% 100,965 4.0% +51,310 +50.8%
Two or More Race Groups 51,350 1.9% 31,621 1.2% +19,729 +62.4%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 138,359 5.1% 89,827 3.6% +48,532 +54.0%
Source: Quarterly Workforce Indicators

How Minnesota Compares

With the knowledge that Minnesota's workforce is becoming increasingly diverse, how does this trend compare with other states in the nation? First, let's look at where Minnesota's current workforce diversity ranks.2 When analyzing by race, those states with the highest shares of jobs held by non-white workers in 2020 included Hawaii (75.1%), Georgia (39.6%), Maryland (37.3%), Louisiana (35.2%), South Carolina (32.2%), Alabama (30.6%), and Virginia (31.5%). Those states with the lowest shares of jobs held by non-white workers included Vermont (5.1%), Maine (5.7%), West Virginia (6.3%), Wyoming (6.7%), New Hampshire (6.8%) and Idaho (7.4%).

At 15.0%, Minnesota's share of jobs held by non-white workers placed it 30th in the nation (Table 3). When analyzing just private employment, Minnesota's share of jobs held by non-white workers (15.5%) was 8.1 percentage points below the national average (23.6%).

When analyzing by ethnicity, those states with the highest shares of jobs held by workers reporting Hispanic or Latino origin included New Mexico (47.1%), California (35.2%), Texas (33.7%), Arizona (30.0%), Nevada (26.8%), and Florida (24.5%). Those states with the lowest shares of jobs held by Hispanic or Latino workers included West Virginia (1.7%), Maine (1.9%), Vermont (2.0%), Ohio (3.7%), and Kentucky (3.7%).

At 5.1%, Minnesota's share of jobs held by Hispanic or Latino workers placed it 33rd in the nation. When analyzing private employment, Minnesota's share of jobs held by Hispanic or Latino workers (5.4%) was 11.2 percentage points below the national average (16.6%).

While Minnesota does not place near the top of the nation's states with the most diverse workforces, its large numeric and rapid percentage growth of racially and ethnically diverse workers is significant. In fact, the 53.5% increase in jobs held by non-white workers between 2010 and 2020 placed it 7th in the nation. Only Illinois, North Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, and Maine had faster growth rates in this regard. When looking just at those states with similar employment levels to Minnesota,3 Minnesota did have the most rapid growth of non-white workers between 2010 and 2020.

Numeric growth in jobs held by non-white workers over the past decade was led by California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, and New York. Of course, these states are also among the largest in the nation – they have the most jobs overall, so it's natural that they would see the largest numeric increase. With Minnesota adding approximately 142,800 jobs held by non-white workers between 2010 and 2020, only Arizona and Tennessee witnessed larger numeric growth for similarly sized states.

Meanwhile, growth of jobs held by those reporting Hispanic or Latino ethnicity was fastest over the past decade in North Dakota, South Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Utah. Minnesota's 54.0% increase in jobs held by those with Hispanic or Latino ethnicity placed it 19th fastest in the nation, and in the middle of similarly sized states.

Table 3. Employment Statistics by State, 2010 – 2020

State
(Sorted by 2020 Total Jobs)
2020 Employment Data 2010 – 2020 Percent Employment Change
Total Jobs Race other than white Share of Jobs Hispanic or Latino (of any race) Share of Jobs Total Jobs Race other than white Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
California 16,319,478 29.3% 35.2% +15.7% +25.2% +30.6%
Texas 11,964,939 23.0% 33.7% +20.4% +40.1% +31.3%
New York 8,724,116 29.1% 15.9% +4.9% +17.8% +20.5%
Florida 8,420,962 24.2% 24.5% +21.8% +38.1% +41.4%
Illinois 5,536,816 21.6% 15.4% +2.0% +143.8% +31.4%
Pennsylvania 5,472,298 17.2% 6.6% +2.4% +32.4% +64.4%
Ohio 5,098,897 16.7% 3.7% +6.2% +34.4% +57.9%
North Carolina 4,294,950 29.5% 7.2% +15.9% +30.3% +55.3%
Georgia 4,230,860 39.6% 7.8% +16.7% +31.0% +50.2%
Michigan 4,002,437 19.0% 4.9% +7.1% +30.0% +47.1%
New Jersey 3,748,020 27.9% 17.6% +2.3% +16.1% +21.3%
Virginia 3,584,398 31.5% 8.2% +7.1% +19.0% +34.3%
Massachusetts 3,352,030 19.1% 10.8% N/A N/A N/A
Washington 3,214,539 22.0% 11.8% +17.8% +50.7% +59.7%
Indiana 2,924,895 14.4% 6.5% +9.3% +42.7% +61.3%
Tennessee 2,894,097 22.1% 4.7% +15.9% +28.8% +72.8%
Arizona 2,782,070 17.5% 30.0% +21.8% +51.2% +42.4%
Wisconsin 2,749,571 12.0% 6.4% +5.5% +42.6% +59.7%
Minnesota 2,726,754 15.0% 5.1% +7.8% +53.5% +54.0%
Missouri 2,638,336 16.7% 4.2% +4.8% +25.6% +41.1%
Colorado 2,545,291 12.9% 19.2% +22.2% +49.0% +46.4%
Maryland 2,386,343 37.3% 8.3% +3.0% +14.0% +31.3%
South Carolina 2,018,703 32.2% 4.9% +17.3% +24.8% +65.5%
Alabama 1,859,718 30.6% 4.1% +6.4% +14.2% +38.2%
Oregon 1,836,127 13.5% 12.7% +17.4% +50.7% +69.7%
Kentucky 1,805,286 13.3% 3.7% +8.3% +37.7% +73.8%
Louisiana 1,755,140 35.2% 4.7% -0.7% +6.0% +25.5%
Connecticut 1,531,972 20.9% 14.4% -2.4% +20.0% +31.4%
Oklahoma 1,515,907 24.5% 9.8% +6.3% +20.6% +47.3%
Iowa 1,486,092 8.8% 6.2% +4.9% +65.5% +55.5%
Utah 1,476,747 9.8% 13.4% +32.4% +67.4% +71.6%
Kansas 1,327,772 13.7% 10.8% +4.4% +26.9% +41.2%
Nevada 1,284,722 26.5% 26.8% +17.7% +38.9% +41.9%
Nebraska 938,338 10.9% 10.2% +7.0% +45.6% +50.5%
New Mexico 763,764 17.6% 47.1% +2.6% +17.3% +11.4%
Idaho 739,711 7.4% 12.6% +25.1% +64.3% +67.1%
West Virginia 630,718 6.3% 1.7% -6.1% +19.9% +53.1%
New Hampshire 626,577 6.8% 4.2% +4.9% +49.2% +65.2%
Maine 576,087 5.7% 1.9% +2.0% +63.2% +62.4%
Hawaii 476,747 75.1% 9.8% -1.6% -4.0% +16.2%
Montana 447,399 8.5% 4.2% +10.3% +33.3% +59.8%
Rhode Island 439,715 14.3% 11.9% +0.8% +29.9% +47.4%
Delaware 426,861 29.9% 8.2% +7.6% +29.7% +44.8%
South Dakota 406,708 10.7% 4.6% +8.0% +44.5% +84.2%
North Dakota 393,285 10.8% 4.6% +13.2% +84.5% +140.8%
Vermont 278,426 5.1% 2.0% -3.6% +38.4% +45.2%
Wyoming 255,381 6.7% 9.7% -3.6% +21.6% +19.6%
Source: Quarterly Workforce Indicators
Note: state data is absent for Alaska, Arkansas, and Mississippi

Minnesota's Industry Trends

While the data clearly shows the demographic shifts occurring in the state's workforce, the QWI data also allows us to analyze the race and ethnicity of jobholders at a more detailed industry sector. By race, five major industries in Minnesota employed a greater share of non-white workers in 2020 than the statewide average of 15.0%: Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (23.1%), Health Care & Social Assistance (22.2%), Accommodation & Food Services (19.0%), Manufacturing (16.8%), and Transportation & Warehousing (15.3%).

Overall, 6.6% of statewide jobs were held by those reporting as Black or African American. The industries reporting the highest shares of jobs held by Black or African Americans included Health Care and Social Assistance (13.3%), Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (12.6%), Transportation & Warehousing (10.0%), and Accommodation & Food Services (7.5%). Those industries with the lowest shares of jobs held by Black or African Americans included Mining (0.3%); Construction (2.0%); Utilities (2.1%); Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (2.6%); and Wholesale Trade (3.0%).

Through 2020, 5.6% of statewide jobs were held by Asian or Other Pacific Islanders. Manufacturing (9.5%); Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (8.6%); Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (6.8%); Other Services (6.5%); and Management of Companies (6.4%) are the industries reporting the highest shares of jobs held by Asian or Other Pacific Islanders. Those industries with the lowest shares include Mining (0.3%); Construction (1.4%); Utilities (2.0%); Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing (2.6%); and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (2.6%).

After increasing more than 60% since 2010, 1.9% of statewide jobs are now filled by workers of Two or More Races. Most notably, the share of workers was highest in Accommodation & Food Services (3.6%); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (2.5%); Retail Trade (2.5%); and Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (2.3%). In contrast, Mining (0.9%); Utilities (1.0%); Wholesale Trade (1.2%); and Agriculture (1.3%) are the industries with the lowest shares of jobs held by workers reporting Two or More Races.

As of 2020, 0.9% of statewide jobs were held by those reporting as American Indian or Alaska Native. Those industries reporting the highest shares of jobs held by American Indian or Alaska Natives included Public Administration (2.8%); Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (2.8%); Accommodation & Food Services (2.1%); and Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (1.4%). Those industries with the lowest shares of jobs held by American Indian and Alaska Natives included Finance & Insurance (0.3%); Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (0.4%); Management of Companies (0.4%); and Information (0.4%).

Minnesota Industry Employment by Share of Workers not Reporting as White

By ethnicity, 5.1% of statewide jobs were held by those reporting Hispanic or Latino origin in 2020. Agriculture (17.1%); Administrative Support & Waste Management Services (10.1%); Accommodation & Food Services (10.0%); and Manufacturing (7.9%) are the industries with the highest shares of jobs held by workers reporting Hispanic or Latino origin. Those industries with the lowest shares of jobs held by workers reporting Hispanic or Latino ethnicity included Mining (1.0%); Utilities (1.6%); Public Administration (2.6%); Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (2.7%); Finance & Insurance (2.9%); and Information (2.9%).

As shown in Figure 3, all major industry sectors in Minnesota experienced increased racial diversity between 2010 and 2020 (Figure 3). During that time, the industries observing the largest percentage increases in jobs held by workers of a race other than white  included Health Care & Social Assistance (+7.5 percentage points), Transportation & Warehousing (+6.4 percentage points), and Manufacturing (+5.3 percentage points). The total of all industries witnessed a 4.5 percentage point increase in the number of jobs held by workers not reporting as white.

All major industry sectors in Minnesota also enjoyed an increase in jobs held by workers reporting Hispanic or Latino ethnicity between 2010 and 2020. The industries seeing the largest percentage point gains during this period were Agriculture (+4.6 percentage points), Accommodation & Food Services (+2.7 percentage points), Construction (+2.3 percentage points), and Retail Trade (+2.3 percentage points). Overall, the total of all industries displayed a 1.5 percent increase in jobs held by workers reporting Hispanic or Latino origin between 2010 and 2020.

Where current and historical employment shares reveal the shifting distribution of Minnesota's employment by race and ethnicity, percent increases show just how rapidly this change is happening. Table 4 expands upon the percent increases in total statewide jobs by race and ethnicity shown in Table 2, by revealing these changes at the industry level. Let's take Manufacturing as an example. Between 2010 and 2020, total Manufacturing employment in the state increased by 7.3%. The share of Manufacturing jobs held by white workers during this time increased by 0.8%. Meanwhile the share of Manufacturing jobs held by all other racial and ethnic populations increased dramatically, surpassing 70% growth for both Black or African American workers and workers reporting Two or More Races.

Table 4. Minnesota Industry Employment Change by Race and Ethnicity, 2010-2020

Change
(Sorted by Total Industry Employment)
2010 – 2020 Percent Employment Growth
Total White Black or African American American Indian or Alaska Native Asian or Other Pacific Islander Two or More Races Hispanic or Latino
Total, All Industries +7.8% +2.4% +59.0% +22.9% +50.8% +62.4% +54.0%
Health Care & Social Assistance +19.3% +8.8% +83.6% +17.6% +84.6% +82.0% +105.6%
Manufacturing +7.3% +0.8% +73.1% +31.3% +49.8% +73.0% +34.6%
Retail Trade -3.3% -7.6% +40.7% +45.1% +28.5% +60.2% +72.6%
Educational Services +8.1% +3.3% +64.9% +15.0% +94.6% +77.3% +90.9%
Accommodation & Food Services -5.7% -10.3% +25.0% +66.7% -1.6% +39.3% +29.1%
Professional & Technical Services +25.5% +20.2% +90.6% +45.9% +75.5% +92.8% +96.1%
Construction +46.0% +42.5% +186.1% +62.0% +183.3% +155.6% +203.9%
Finance & Insurance +6.8% +2.7% +38.8% +44.6% +61.4% +51.7% +81.7%
Wholesale Trade -0.4% -3.3% +73.3% +43.3% +29.1% +66.0% +58.8%
Admin. Support & Waste Mgmt. Svcs. -3.3% -7.8% +20.3% +18.5% +6.9% +17.5% +4.3%
Public Administration +7.4% +3.2% +76.6% +6.1% +78.8% +75.4% +70.6%
Management of Companies +25.0% +19.4% +60.8% +73.6% +93.1% +114.2% +98.4%
Other Services -3.2% -7.6% +14.0% +5.9% +70.1% +42.8% +18.6%
Transportation & Warehousing +14.9% +6.8% +115.4% +47.4% +59.6% +104.8% +105.4%
Information -19.6% -21.4% -11.8% -4.3% +2.5% +10.6% +14.4%
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation -5.7% -7.3% +45.3% -35.0% +27.6% +28.9% +38.1%
Real Estate, Rental & Leasing -14.2% -15.6% +4.5% -5.6% -25.6% +31.3% +44.6%
Agriculture +25.3% +21.6% +156.5% +48.7% +48.7% +51.5% +71.3%
Utilities -27.2% -28.3% -16.5% -28.4% +44.0% -7.4% +15.4%
Mining +8.3% +7.6% +72.7% +29.2% N/A +31.6% +78.8%
Source: Quarterly Workforce Indicators

The data is clear, Minnesota's workforce is becoming more diverse. While the state does fall below national averages for jobs held by workers of races other than white, rapid growth among all racial and ethnic groups is steadily pushing Minnesota's labor market in a more diverse direction. And this is happening for every single industry sector, despite the stark differences among them in the share of racially and ethnically diverse workers.

1Quarterly Workforce Indicators 101, U.S. Census Bureau, lehd.ces.census.gov/doc/QWI_101.pdf.

2Statewide QWI data for this analysis was not available for Alaska, Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.

3Within 200,000 jobs – this includes Indiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Colorado.

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