Though many Minnesotans face unemployment on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities of color have been particularly impacted by the crisis. Since March 16, 19% of workers of color and indigenous and Latinx workers have applied for unemployment insurance, compared to the 9.5% of the white workforce in the state. Seeing this increase of disparities in our employment sector, and similarly in our health sector, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has developed certain strategies in an effort to mitigate and close the disparities seen within the state.
DEED Commissioner Steve Grove announced a series of actions the Department has begun to take to combat racial disparities in Minnesota. These efforts include translating state information and documents into other languages and offering translation services when needed; connecting with community leaders and media within minority communities; and preventing unemployment from occurring in the first place by working with lenders for small business loan programs that will focus on communities of color. Nearly half of loans authorized through the state small business loan program have gone to lenders specifically serving businesses owned by black, indigenous, and Latinx Minnesotans and other Minnesotans of color.
All Minnesotans deserve to have access to relief during this crisis. That means reexamining the accessibility of our systems to Minnesotans whose first language may not be English and those who traditionally face systemic barriers to receiving services, and making the necessary changes to connect more people to the resources they need.