By Jackie Renzetti, Staff writer
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, July 27, 2016 —

Recent college graduates from minority backgrounds earn less and are less likely to gain full-time jobs than their white counterparts in Minnesota, a new study shows.

Released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the study examined employment of workers in their second year after graduating from post-secondary schools from July 2010 through June 2013.

The study used Minnesota Office of Higher Education completion records from about 150 colleges, universities and tech schools throughout the state to find graduates and track their outcomes in unemployment insurance wage records, lead author Alessia Leibert said.

The study includes data for American Indians, Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, whites and multi-racial workers.

Workers from each of the minority backgrounds in the study were less likely to be hired for a full-time job than workers of caucasian or Asian descent.

This difference between the racial backgrounds remained regardless of education level or age, the study found.

And for those with full-time jobs, white workers had the highest median annual wage of $43,738, which was $1,000 to $5,000 more than those from American Indian, Asian, African American, Hispanic or multi-racial backgrounds. In addition, the study found that among workers with similar ages and education levels, workers from racial minorities are more likely to work in low-wage industries.

Alessia Leibert is a project manager at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. (Photo courtesy of Alessia Leibert)


“There isn’t much difference in terms of race in terms of their ability of getting a job,” Leibert said. “But the quality of those jobs varies.”

Leibert said that the differences can be attributed to disadvantages for those of racial minority backgrounds at every level of education — from preparation for college in K-12 education to being able to complete post-secondary education. Leibert said that job searching, hiring practices and career counseling also all contribute to a student’s career outcome.

“It’s not just one intervention … It should be a bundle of these initiatives,” Leibert said. “We see disparities that are so systemic that indicate people already take different tracks, already starting from their choice of major, or their ability to complete a degree before age 30.”

Jackie Renzetti writes the Business Journal’s Strategies and Cool Offices features.