Patterns of the 5th Ward: Unemployment

By Matt Johnson

Patterns provide us with some insight into the behaviors of systems. With one pattern, say unemployment, it’s a simple behavior and it shows us a piece of the picture. With multiple patterns, say unemployment, foreclosures, and education levels, we can see multiple behaviors which provide us a different perspective from each individual pattern. Added together, they show us a more complex behavior of the system. Hence with each article, the data provides us with a much fuller description of discrepancies between areas within the 5th Ward, and between the 5th Ward and the rest of Minneapolis, at least with how the city looked in 2013.

Matt Johnson, The Systems Scientist
Matt Johnson, The Systems Scientist

As Table 1 shows us, there was an obvious and disturbing contrast between the zip codes and their respective unemployment percentages. But we must note one thing first before we continue.

Although the 55401 and 55405 are only partially in the 5th Ward, whereas the 55411 resides completely in the 5th Ward, the data in this table can still provide us with some inference and intuition between the respective zip codes. In other words, the 55401 and 55405 zip codes reside in multiple wards.

As the data illustrates, there was a clear distinction between the three zip codes. Whereas the 55401 and the 55405 expressed an unemployment percentage comparable to the General Minneapolis System (GMS) in 2013, which started off at 5.2 percent early in 2013 and decreased to 4.3 percent late in the year as Table 2 illustrates, the 55411 system experienced an unemployment reality three to four times higher than its neighbor zip codes. Clearly from these two pieces of data and the simple systems’ behaviors that represent them, a person in the 5th Ward, depending on where they lived, more than likely experienced a much different reality compared to other residents of the 5th Ward. Why might this be?

Table 1
Table 1

History indicates a much different experience for “black” Americans than it does for “white” Americans. Whereas, “white” Americans have benefitted from a plethora of economic, political, social, and ecological resources, “black” Americans have been much less fortunate. And many times, this has had to do with redlining policies at the local and federal level, which segregated “blacks” into certain, undesired neighborhoods. In many ways, Minneapolis is still reflective of this past.

To illustrate this point, the 55401 and 55405 zip codes were majority “white” in 2013; whereas, the 55411 zip code was predominantly “black” in 2013 This fact was illustrated in Patterns of the 5th Ward: “Race”. There were important questions posed in this previous article.

One question posed, will a depressed part of town have a higher percentage of American citizens who are “black” and unemployed? We have enough information now to show that not only does the 55411 have a majority “black” population contrasted to the majority “white” populations of the 55401 and 55405, but the unemployment rate was three to four times higher in the 55411 than it was in the 55401 and 55405 in 2013.

Table 2
Table 2

In some instances, the unemployment rate was as high as 40 percent in some of the neighborhoods within the 55411 zip code where the population was majority “black” in 2013 according to Thus, we have answered a key question from the first article of this series. And now we also have data to back up our hypothesis.

In the next article Patterns of the 5th Ward: Foreclosures, what will we expect to find? Will we expect to find a similar relationship and systems’ behavior where the number of foreclosures in the 55411 zip code is much higher than the number of foreclosures in the 55401 or 55405? In other words, should we expect to find higher foreclosure numbers in parts of the 5th Ward, which are predominantly “black,” or should we expect to find higher foreclosure numbers in the parts of the 5th Ward, which are predominantly “white?”

For further exploration of this subject, read the first part of this series Patterns of the 5th Ward: “Race” and Minneapolis, Yesterday, Today, and the Continuous Disparity of History.

**Remember, there is nothing more American than discourse. You are always welcome to post your comments, thoughts, and questions below. Feedback is always appreciated!


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