Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Minneapolis Area's Racial Employment Disparity makes the News

A report released yesterday by the Washington D.C. based Economic Policy Institute reports that the Minneapolis area has the largest racial disparity in unemployment of any metropolitan area in the country.

The report, called, Uneven pain—Unemployment by metropolitan area and race by Algeron Austin is also mentioned in a short article from the Minnesota Independent. The report reveals that the unemployment rate of blacks in 20.4 % in the Minneapolis areas compared to 6.6% for whites. That represents a ratio of 3 to 1 and a 13.8% difference.

This is clearly not good news, but does suggest that I was on the right track when I identified closing the racial disparities in poverty and employment by raising the income and employment levels of poor people in Minneapolis as one of my 2010 top 5 priorities.

I think that in some ways the City is well positioned to make progress on this based on the City-County Equity in Employment Action Team we established in 2008 to examine and implement best practices for reducing economic disparities between minority and majority communities. That group helped us identify and approve 2 new targets for the City's Employment and Poverty Sustainability Indicator in December of 2009. These are:

1. Reduce the percentage of employed Minneapolis residents living in poverty from the 2008 baseline of 10.1% to 7% by 2014.

2. Reduce the percentage of Minneapolis minority residents living in poverty from the 2008 Census Bureau reported average of 36% to that of the 2008 metropolitan minority overage of 21% by 2014.

I am also hopeful because this spring the City’s Employment and Training Program, in cooperation with Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, was been awarded $4 million by the Department of Labor for a Pathways Out of Poverty Grant, through the Renewable Energy Network Empowering Workers (RENEW) Project.

This project will help provide training and employment for 500 residents, while ensuring that area businesses have access to a well-trained workforce that is prepared to carry out the work of greening the local economy. RENEW is a collaboration between the City of Minneapolis Workforce Council, Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board, neighborhood-based non-profits, labor organizations, education and training institutions, and the green business community. I am very hopeful that this will not only build the economic capital of low-income residents, but also build the workforce capital of the region’s large green business base.

Operational partners for the RENEW include: Guadalupe Alternative Program; MN Transitions Charter School; the Minneapolis North and South WorkForce Centers (DEED); Goodwill/Easter Seals; EMERGE Community Development; Resource, Inc.; HIRED; American Indian OIC; Minneapolis Urban League; Project for Pride in Living (PPL); Lifetrack Resources; Women Venture; Rebuild Resources; Summit Academy OIC; M&J Environmental; Minneapolis Community and Technical College; Dunwoody College of Technology; St. Paul College; Century College; St. Paul Adult Basic Education; Minneapolis Adult Basic Education; United Way; and Minneapolis & St. Paul Building Trades.

Racial disparities in employment and poverty is a persistent and serious problem, for some reason more serious in our area than in the rest of the country. It is going to take a large scale, long term and smart collaborative effort to find a solution.

As bad as this is, I think admitting it and measuring it will help us more than ignoring it.
This report and this kind of publicity shows we have been smart to at least try to focus on this issue in recent years.

Let’s use this information to get ourselves to work harder and to leverage more resources to help solve the problem and close the gap.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Diversity Audit of Boards and Commissions

Last year I initiated an effort to conduct a "diversity audit" of the City's many boards and commissions. I was thinking that it would be great if the diversity of our advisory groups reflects the diversity of our City. If it doesn't, we should at least have some measure of how and where the reflection is off. In order to set goals and guide outreach and recruitment efforts some understanding, or snap shot, of how things stands today could be very helpful.

While I wish we had had better participation (we got 194 of roughly 400 to complete the survey) I think this information is useful. I want to thank everyone who took the time to answer the questions and hope that this is something we can repeat every few years.

The results seem to confirm what many expected, our booards and commissions are mostly euro-american, middle-aged, middle and upper class, heterosexual homeowners who work and live in Minneapolis. Of course we found out a lot more than that and more of the details are below. Please check it our and share any surprises or concerns you find in the data.

It will be interesting to see how our snap shot matches up with the census data that is still being gathered.

Below is a graphics-free layout of the survey. A more complete and colorful version, with great charts and graphs, is posted here.


Survey of Volunteers on Minneapolis Boards and Commissions
Conducted Sep-Dec 2009

On July 17, 2009 the City Council approved a resolution to survey members of City of Minneapolis boards and commissions. The City has more than 50 boards and commissions that it supports. Of the more than 600 community volunteers over 400 of them are appointed by City of Minneapolis appointing authorities. For the purposes of this survey, the 400 + community members appointed by the City of Minneapolis were requested to complete the survey. We received a total of 194 responses. Appointments were being made during this time and at one given time any number of positions may be vacant so this is only considered a snapshot in time. What follows is a summary of the questions and responses.

1. Do you work in Minneapolis?

Yes 73.4% 141
No 26.6% 51
answered question 192
skipped question 2

2. Do you own property in Minneapolis?

Yes 77.8% 151
No 22.2% 43
answered question 194
skipped question 0

3. How long have you lived in your current housing?

RENT 1-5 years 57.1% 12
6-10 years 23.8% 5
11-15 years 4.8% 1
16-25 years 4.8% 1
26+ years 0.0% 0
Unknown 9.5% 2

OWN 1 - 5 years 32.7% 54
6 - 10 years 24.2% 40
11- 15 years 12.1% 20
16 - 25 years 16.4% 27
26 + years 12.7% 21
Unknown 1.8% 3
answered question 186
skipped question 8

1-5 years
6-10 years
11-15 years
16-25 years
26+ years

4. Which category represents your age?

18 to 24 years 2.6% 5
25 to 39 years 24.2% 47
40 to 54 years 34.0% 66
55 to 64 years 29.9% 58
65 + 9.3% 18
answered question 194
skipped question 0

5. Not including yourself, what are the ages of the individuals who live in your household? Please indicate the number of individuals who fall into each applicable category.

10 years or younger 27.3% 45
11 to 17 years 24.8% 41
18 to 34 years 30.3% 50
35 to 54 years 46.1% 76
55 to 64 years 33.3% 55
65 + 20.6% 34
answered question 165
skipped question 29

6. Are you living with a disability? If you answer no, skip to question 8.

Yes 9.6% 18
No 90.4% 170
answered question 188
skipped question 6

7. If you answer yes to question 6, into which of the following categories does your disability fall?

Mobility 53.8% 7
Sight 30.8% 4
Hearing 15.4% 2
Speech 0.0% 0
Developmental 0.0% 0
Other (please specify): 7
answered question 13
skipped question 181

8. Are you of Hispanic origin?
(Replicates question from 2010 Census. As in the 2010 Census, Hispanic origins are not races.)

No, not of Hispanic, Latin, or Spanish Origin 96.7% 178
Yes, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano 1.6% 3
Yes, Puerto Rico 0.5% 1
Yes, Cuban 0.5% 1
Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. Please indicate in the box below origin, for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on. 1.1% 2
Origin 9
answered question 184
skipped question 10

9. Which of the following racial/ethnic categories best describe you? Please mark as many as necessary. (Replicates question from 2010 Census.)

While/European American 81.3% 152
Black/African American 8.6% 16
African 0.5% 1
American Indian or Alaska Native 3.2% 6
Asian Indian 1.1% 2
Chinese 1.1% 2
Filipino 0.0% 0
Japanese 0.0% 0
Korean 0.0% 0
Vietnamese 1.1% 2
Other Asian 1.1% 2
Native Hawaiian 0.0% 0
Guamanian or Chamorro 0.0% 0
Samoan 0.0% 0
Other Pacific Islander. 0.0% 0
Other 5.3% 10
answered question 187
skipped question 7

10. How do you self-identify in terms of gender?

Male 50.3% 97
Female 49.7% 96
answered question 193
skipped question 1

11. How do you self-identify in terms of sexual orientation?

Heterosexual 88.5% 170
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender 11.5% 22
answered question 192
skipped question 2

12. What is your current marital or relationship status?

Single 30.0% 57
Married/Domestic Partnership 70.0% 133
answered question 190
skipped question 4

13. What was your total household income in 2008 before taxes?

Less than $25,000 6.2% 11
$25,000 - $49,999 9.6% 17
$50,000 - $74,999 18.5% 33
$75,000 - $124,999 34.8% 62
$125,000 - $199,999 19.7% 35
$200,000 + 11.2% 20
answered question 178
skipped question 16

14. On which board(s), commission(s), or committee(s) do you currently serve?

Animal Care & Control Advisory Committee 4

Heritage Preservation Commission 10
Arts Commission, Minneapolis 11

Housing Board of Appeals 5
Board of Equalization 1

Latino Advisory Committee 5
Capitol Long-Range Improvements Committee 24

Minneapolis Public Housing Authority 3
Charter Commission 7

Minneapolis Television Network 4
Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee 19

Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission 12
Civil Rights Commission 12

Pedestrian Advisory Committee 4
Civil Service Commission 3

Planning Commission 8
Civilian Review Authority Board 6

Public Health Advisory Committee 10
Disabilities, Minneapolis Advisory Committee on People with 3

Senior Citizens Advisory Committee 11
Empowerment Zone Governance Board 7

Workforce Council 12
Ethical Practices Board 3

Youth Coordinating Board 1
Family Housing Fund 1

Youth Violence Prevention Executive Committee 5
Fire Code Appeals Board 1

Zoning Board of Adjustment 5
answered question 186
skipped question 8

A number of boards or committees were listed for which the City of Minneapolis does not support or make appointments. Question #15 asked “How long have you represented the board(s) on which you serve?“ The responses are listed below however some of these number represent length of service on boards that were not originally part of this survey.

15. How long have you represented the board(s) on which you serve?

1 - 3 years 94

4 - 6 years 40

7 + years 28

16. In which Minneapolis Ward or other city do you live?

1 7.7% 14
2 4.4% 8
3 3.9% 7
4 5.5% 10
5 7.2% 13
6 6.6% 12
7 12.7% 23
8 3.9% 7
9 5.5% 10
10 5.5% 10
11 4.4% 8
12 8.3% 15
13 11.0% 20
Uncertain 1.7% 3
Other city - 11.6% 21
answered question 181
skipped question 13

17. What is your employment status? Please check all that apply.

Employed - full time 63.2% 120
Employed - part time 5.8% 11
Full time student 3.2% 6
Unemployed 2.6% 5
Self-employed 18.4% 35
Homemaker 1.6% 3
Retired 13.2% 25
Other 6
answered question 190
skipped question 4

18. What is the highest level of education you have completed?

Some high school 0.5% 1
High school or GED 0.5% 1
Some technical school 0.0% 0
Technical school graduate 2.1% 4
Some college 13.6% 26
College graduate 33.5% 64
Post graduate 49.7% 95
Other 7
answered question 191
skipped question 3


It might also be interesting to dig down even further into the civic diversity of our City. If the census yields us information about the make up of each of our neighborhoods, for example, I wonder how that would compare to the diversity of those who serve of our neighborhood association boards, those who receive grants and funding through public programs, or those who participate in our events and serve on other organizations.

Hopefully this audit will be a resource that others can use and that we can use in City Hall to help set goals, guide future outreach efforts and to measure our selves against down the road when we can take another snap shot of the make up of the volunteer advisers who do so much to help our City.