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Labor force, diversity expanding in Todd, Douglas

Every one of the 26 counties in northwest Minnesota grew more diverse ethnically and racially from 2000-2016, and so did the workforce.

That's according to regional labor market analyst Chet Bodin with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Bodin noted that the labor force has expanded during that time, adding 9,000 minority workers, which represented 40 percent of the expansion.

Douglas County followed suit, its number rising from 4.1 to 7.9 on a scale called the Diversity Index. The index is a number from 1-100 that represents the chance that two people chosen randomly from an area will be different by race and ethnicity. A higher number means more diversity.

Two of Douglas County's neighbors were among the region's top five counties where diversity has increased the most. Stevens County rose from 9.2 to 20.2 during that time frame, and Todd County went from 8.4 to 17.9.

In these five counties, the Hispanic or Latino population grew by an average of 392 percent, and the black or African American population rose by an average of 248 percent. During that same time, these counties lost an average of 401 white residents.

"Minority workers are a vital piece of the economy in Northwest Minnesota, and there are opportunities for others to make the region their home and earn a sustainable living," Bodin wrote.