Statistics from the U.S. Census and Equal Opportunity Commission show racial and ethnic minorities are a growing portion of Minnesota's workforce, yet are significantly underrepresented in many kinds of jobs and industries.

Statistics from the U.S. Census and Equal Opportunity Commission show racial and ethnic minorities are a growing portion of Minnesota's workforce, yet are significantly underrepresented in many kinds of jobs and industries.

Racial and ethnic minorities represent only 8 percent of the workforce among management, business financial and health professionals, Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2q2Kysz) reported. That's half their share of the total number of employees.

"We are doing very poorly," said Dianne Binns, president of the St. Paul NAACP. "We need to look at what is causing us not to hire as many people of color as are in the workforce."

The state's workforce diversity survey also found a difference in the practices of large and small companies. About three-fourths of large employers said they're trying increase racial diversity, and only about a quarter of firms with 50 or fewer workers reported making such efforts.

"Most of the time what we find that happens with small employers, they hire their family or their friends or acquaintances that they know," Binns said. "So that means that people such as myself and other people of color who may not be in that arena are not included in that hiring."

Louis King runs Summit Academy OIC, which trains low-income people for jobs in health care and construction.

"Small companies don't have the resources that large companies have to really invest in diversity and hiring," he said, adding that big companies are subject to more scrutiny because they're in the public eye.

Minnesota labor market economist Steve Hine said the disparities in hiring contribute to disparities in home ownership, wealth and other socioeconomic measures.

"If we were truly successful in achieving diversity in our workforce, we would not see the kinds of disparities that we currently see," he said.