A new study reaffirms a refrain equality advocates have become quite fond of in this state: Minnesota is a great place to live -- for white people.
The Center for Popular Democracy and the Economic Policy Institute released a study yesterday showing the statewide unemployment rate for black people is 11.7 percent, compared to 3.2 percent for white people. See also: Minnesota Has the Worst Financial Racial Equity in America, According to Study
Black Minnesotans' unemployment rate is 3.7 times higher than white Minnesotans'. The study analyzed all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the only places with a larger gap were Wisconsin (4.6 times higher) and D.C. (5.6 times higher).
Minneapolis unemployment rates are lower than statewide, but the racial gap (3.9x) is even higher.
When these figures came out yesterday protesters from across the country lobbied the Federal Reserve to keep its interest rates low.
When interest rates are low it's easier for businesses to borrow money, and in theory, easier access to money means businesses can hire -- and pay -- more people. On the flip side, if interest rates are kept too low for too long inflation becomes a concern.
"Unemployment is slowly, slowly heading in the right direction, but raising interest rates at this point would really set minorities back," said Becky Dernbach with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, which held a rally yesterday at its headquarters. "We think the Fed needs to pay special consideration to how the recovery has not hit certain communities at all."
NOC and its allies are supportive of Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, who favors keeping interest rates low, but he's stepping down in a year. Protesters made it clear yesterday they want a say in who takes his place.
"On a fundamental level, we need to have a voice in the process," said Dernbach.
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