MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While the Job market remains strong across the country, that’s not the case for black families in Minnesota. The latest numbers put the unemployment rate in Minnesota at 3.5 percent.

But for African-Americans in Minnesota, it’s 14 percent — that’s compared to 8.8 percent nationally — and that number is rising.

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This problem has been the focus of everyone from the state government to business leaders. Not only is the African American unemployment rate high, it’s actually on the rise in Minnesota.

Fred Dyer does not like being a statistic — he has a master’s degree in psychology and counseling. Dyer says he sees the improving job numbers and wonders when it will be his turn.

“In terms of why I am not included in those numbers, that’s a good question,” he said.

Minnesota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, at 3.5 percent. But for blacks, the unemployment rate is 14 percent, up from about 11 percent last year.

Mitchell Davis is director of the Minneapolis Urban League’s Workforce Solutions program.

“I look at the stats too and see companies hiring all the time — the question is why aren’t we going into those doors,” he said. “We have employer job fairs here. We have career fairs here we also have individual working with our job development coaches.”

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Davis says they try and help people like Fred Dyer find work. He says he does not understand why many are called for interviews, but few come away with a job.

“Something happens between that interview — and then they may be asked to come back — something stops in between there and they don’t get the offer,” Davis said.

Dyer says he’s not sure why his degrees and experience are not attractive to Minnesota employers.

“I really don’t know what the barrier or challenge may be,” Dyer said. “For me, I wouldn’t assign it to race totally, but yet I wouldn’t deny its applicability.”

Dyer says this land of opportunity, robust economy and liberal politics must immediately begin dealing with a population needing and wanting to work.

“It does take longer for us to receive work,” he said. “It does take longer for us to receive an offer.”

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Governor Dayton says the numbers underscore the real need to address racial economic disparities in Minnesota. He says he has re-doubled his efforts and the issue is a high priority for him in the upcoming legislative session.

Reg Chapman