City officials work to improve unemployment rates for minorities in the Twin Ports

By KBJR News 1

July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 9:56 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Statistics show the unemployment rate for minorities in the Twin Ports is disproportionately high, but now minority and city leaders are making an effort to see that change.

A minority employment issues gathering was held Wednesday night in Duluth.

The unemployment rate for African Americans in Duluth and throughout the region is at 24%, while the unemployment rate for Native Americans is at 19%.

Unemployed and under employed minorities in the community got a chance to speak with local employers, city officials and union leaders about the changes needed to improve their rate of recruitment and retention in our labor force.

Minority leaders say they're concerned because unemployment is quite high for African and Native Americans in Duluth and Superior.

They hope being proactive with gatherings like these will lead to more effective ways to let people know about job openings, and reduce barriers in education and training.

"Jobs and training. They can't be separate. They need to be together because if people don't have the skill base that they need, they still need to eat and need to be able to support their families, so we have to come up with solutions create the jobs, but also have the training to support the jobs that people are wanting and need," said community organizer Henry Banks.

Job seekers also gave their contact information and the job or training they are seeking to community leaders willing to provide assistance in overcoming barriers to better employment.

Officials at the meeting said 63% of African Americans in Duluth live in poverty, while a staggering 67% of Native Americans live in poverty here in the Twin Ports.

Demographic projections indicate African Americans will be increasingly crucial to meet employer needs in the Twin Ports, however, leaders in the community say the unemployment rate for people of color locally is still extremely unbalanced, which is why conversations like these are crucial to have.