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Native American Labor Market Dashboard fills important data gap for Indian Country

New data tool illuminates current labor market conditions for Native people

June 3, 2021

Authors

Casey Lozar Vice President, Director of Center for Indian Country Development
Ryan Nunn Assistant Vice President, Community Development and Engagement
Vanessa Palmer Data Scientist, Community Development and Engagement
Native American Labor Market Dashboard fills important data gap for Indian Country, key image
Allison Bertelson/Minneapolis Fed; Getty Images

Article Highlights

  • New dashboard tracks core labor market indicators for American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives are often left out of monthly data due to sample size
  • Native American workers face persistently higher unemployment rates than others
Native American Labor Market Dashboard fills important data gap for Indian Country

Up-to-date labor market data are essential for understanding how workers and the overall economy are faring. While federal statistical agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau provide estimates of core labor market indicators for both the entire workforce and larger racial and ethnic groups, comparable data for American Indians and Alaska Natives are not easily accessible. With its new Native American Labor Market Dashboard, Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) fills this gap.

Measures like the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate help policymakers and analysts assess the labor market and develop appropriate and effective policy responses. However, overall labor market measures can mask important differences in the experiences of workers. For example, Black, Latino/a, and Native American workers tend to have much higher unemployment than White workers, whether in periods of growth or recession.

The federal statistical agencies report timely labor market estimates for some racial/ethnic groups but generally not American Indians and Alaska Natives due to small sample sizes in monthly data. Our new dashboard relies on the same individual-level data that underlie estimates for other groups, making our calculations fully comparable with standard sources. By averaging estimates across months, the dashboard provides additional precision. In addition, our tool sheds light on the often markedly different labor market conditions for individuals in metro and non-metro areas.

With this information—which we will update regularly—policymakers and analysts can make better-informed decisions about Indian Country issues. Especially as the United States recovers from the pandemic recession, it is vital that we understand the extent to which American Indians and Alaska Natives are included in that economic recovery.

Casey Lozar
Vice President, Director of Center for Indian Country Development

Casey Lozar is a Minneapolis Fed vice president and director of our Center for Indian Country Development (CICD). Responsible for leading all aspects of the work of the CICD, Casey helps to identify research and policy priorities, and to increase CICD’s visibility, impact, and relevance. Casey is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and he’s based at our Helena, Mont., Branch.

Ryan Nunn
Assistant Vice President, Community Development and Engagement
Ryan Nunn is an assistant vice president in the Minneapolis Fed’s Community Development and Engagement Department. Leading the Bank’s applied research function, Ryan works to improve outcomes for low- and moderate-income communities with the help of better evidence and analysis.
Vanessa Palmer
Data Scientist, Community Development and Engagement

Vanessa Palmer is a data scientist in the Minneapolis Fed’s Community Development and Engagement Division. She uses data visualization to help the Bank and its stakeholders better understand issues affecting low- and moderate-income communities.