Growth & Justice yesterday hosted the first event in a series of 30-minute virtual "Recipes for Success - Minnesota Equity Blueprint" breakfasts, which reacquainted attendees with the two-years-in-the-making Minnesota Equity Blueprint, co-editors Dane Smith and Kate Searls shared their knowledge and insight on the Blueprint and its creation process, and gauged people’s policy priorities (especially following the last eventful five months). The next Blueprint breakfast, on equitable and inclusive economic development practices and policy recommendations, is scheduled for August 19 at 8 a.m. We'll be sending invites out soon. The MN Equity Blueprint is a living document, so we continue to collect equity stories and initiatives from across Minnesota. We’d love to hear yours! If you’re interested, please upload your story to our Google form. If you’d like to view the recording of yesterday’s event, it is accessible with this link (if you need a password: ?b8u1+?L), and the PowerPoint is available here.
The Metropolitan Council continues to push for greater equity in Minnesota. The Council has conducted analysis over the last four months on the economic impact of COVID-19 on income, housing and employment cost-burden in Minnesota and the Twin Cities. More specifically, some of the Council’s research focuses on how this economic impact may widen and worsen already existing inequities for people of color. Among the jobs most affected by the virus, “personal care services and food preparation and service jobs,” were hurt the most. The research also showed that while “CARES Act funding also helped stabilize housing cost-burden for both homeowners and renters,” this assistance will not close the gaps between the impacts on people of color versus white people. The Council is also moving forward with an extensive plan to make their “offices, treatment plants, transit facilities, garages, websites, and other digital media more accessible” to people with disabilities. The effort is partly motivated by an evaluation based on U.S. Access Board and Minnesota Accessibility Code guidelines, which pointed out almost 3,000 physical barriers to Metropolitan Council buildings.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis recently published a couple of articles on sources of inequality and widening gaps in the U.S., specifically discussing recessions and property taxes. The articles identify the intersection between recessions, which force out lower-skilled workers, and “skill-biased technical change” as the main culprit of income inequality. Technological advancement allows those with tech skills and training to excel while leaving those without such skills and training behind, worsening income inequality even more.“Skill-biased technical change fuels the long-term trend toward growing inequality, but labor force dynamics during business cycles guide it,” Douglas Clement writes in one of the articles. In the second article, while acknowledging the essential services they fund such as schools and roads, Clement deems property taxes “an entrenched source of racial inequality.” According to recent Minneapolis Fed analysis, “Black and Hispanic homeowners face property tax assessment rates between 10 percent and 13 percent higher than White homeowners in the same tax jurisdiction,” creating significant additional tax burdens for them. “Faulty valuation of amenities” and a lower likelihood than white homeowners to appeal and win assessments compose much of the reason behind the widening assessment gap. To address this, the article points out, economists suggest using a zip-code-level housing price index to decrease the assessment gap.
“How does one put together a democracy based on the concept of equality while running an economy with ever greater degrees of economic inequality?” – Lester Thurow (Foreword of Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap, 1999)