Racial income gap needs real action

by Daily Editorial Board

Black leaders in the state responded to a report Thursday that showed the median household income among black Minnesotans last year was at least $4,000 less compared to the year before, the Star Tribune reported. They criticized Gov. Mark Dayton for neglecting this issue, and many called for increased efforts to counteract the trend.
State Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, responded to the report by suggesting that the state government is not taking the issue seriously, citing a failure to act decisively and spur real change.
While Minnesota’s unemployment rate has continued to drop to about 4 percent, wages have largely remained stagnant. Moreover, the poverty rate for African-Americans has risen by about 5 percent, and the jobless rate among black Minnesotans — at almost 16 percent — is about four times the state average. 
Some black leaders suggest that discriminatory hiring practices may be to blame for the income disparity, particularly among immigrants, who may have trouble getting hired for jobs that match their qualifications. 
Others point out that this is merely an extension of the educational achievement gap that has become prevalent. The one agreement is that state officials are to blame for allowing these types of disparities to continue to exist. 
We urge the state Legislature to take the issue seriously. While Dayton has pledged to “redouble efforts” to solve the problem, he has yet to offer any concrete proposals. This trend cannot continue, and it will require a concerted effort by community leaders, schools and government officials in order to reverse the discouraging development.