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Twin Cities worst in U.S. for racial unemployment disparities

In the Twin Cities, this means you, especially if you are black.

In the Twin Cities, this means you, especially if you are black.

If you're black in the Twin Cities you're more than three times as likely to be unemployed as your white neighbors.

That's the worst disparity in the nation, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute.

Overall, the area is doing relatively well on the unemployment front -- 38 of the 50 biggest metro areas have it worse than the 7.8 unemployment rate in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington.

But the racial breakdown is ugly.

The study finds that 20.4 percent of blacks in the Twin Cities were unemployed in 2009, compared to just 6.6 percent of whites.

The gap can't be explained away by differences in education, either, the authors conclude. Blacks in Minneapolis are still far more likely to be unemployed than whites with comparable education levels.

Myron Orfield, Executive Director of the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota, says the disparity has a lot to do with the increasing segregation of the Twin Cities.

"We're building most of our affordable housing in segregated neighborhoods," Orfield says. Those segregated neighborhoods are often far from the suburbs where most of the entry-level jobs are being created, making it especially hard for black city-dwellers to get work.

Orfield says he doesn't see the current trends turning around anytime soon. "It's just getting worse," he says. "There's a lack of will to tackle these problems."