How criminal records worsen the jobs gap

The Twin Cities region has one of the country's widest racial gaps in employment, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The advocacy group Take Action Minnesota says one reason for that gap is the reluctance of employers to hire people with criminal records, who are disproportionately likely to be African-Americans.

The group has been working with Target Corp., one of the largest employers in Minnesota, to address the issue. The two organizations will engage in a public meeting tonight to discuss Target's practices regarding job applicants with criminal records.

A representative of Take Action stressed that the meeting is not intended to persuade Target to hire such applicants, but rather to explore the issue with the communities most affected. Target declined to appear on The Daily Circuit, but offered this statement:

Over the past year, members of the Target team have had many productive conversations with Take Action MN. Many of our discussions have focused on Minnesota's racial jobs gap and the barriers individuals with criminal records face when seeking employment. At Target we are proud of our record on diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. As a leader in this area, we believe that we have an opportunity to play a role in helping to narrow Minnesota's racial jobs gap.

At Target, we are committed to protecting the safety of our team members and guests, and to protecting our property. Everyone should be able to come to Target knowing that the place where they work or shop with their families is safe. To align our practices with this priority, our criminal background check process excludes only those applicants whose convictions could pose a significant risk to our guests, team members or property. Examples of these convictions include serious violence, theft, sex and drug crimes.

Target agrees that one small mistake in a person's past should not bar the individual from employment, so our process considers, among other things, the age and type of conviction, the number of convictions the individual has, as well as the age of the applicant when the crime was committed.

We talk with an advocate and a journalist who has written nationally on the topic.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.