The economic recovery has taken hold in Minnesota, but that’s news to the many Minnesotans who are not sharing in the state’s prosperity. And with a tightening labor market, Minnesota needs to better tap into the potential of those currently being left on the sidelines.
Our recent analysis shows that while overall unemployment is low in the state, those groups who faced the highest levels of unemployment during the recession are still having the most difficulty finding jobs. These include workers with less education, single parents, the young, and people of color. For example, while the gaps have narrowed, Minnesotans without a high school diploma were more than four times as likely to be unemployed than those with a college degree in the third quarter of 2015. And young Minnesotans were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as 45- to 64-year old Minnesotans.
When Minnesotans cannot find work they often spend less, which reduces consumer spending, and this can impede the state’s economic growth. Fortunately, policymakers can take several steps to help more Minnesotans get good jobs to support themselves and their families, including:
- Expanding affordable child care so parents can succeed in the workplace and employers can get the reliable workers they need.
- Expanding earned sick leave so that more Minnesota workers can keep their jobs when illness strikes.
- Strengthening the Working Family Credit to support working parents and give a boost to younger workers to help them stay in the labor market.
These policies can narrow the gaps in unemployment we see in Minnesota, and we can build the workforce we need by expanding opportunity to those Minnesotans who have been left out.