So what is going on? Here are some hypotheses:
- Nothing. Census data here are just flawed for whatever reason.
- Minnesota companies suddenly decided that Klansmen made the best HR managers, black people paid the price, and nobody at the Star-Tribune or Pioneer Press noticed the shift in employment numbers.
- Black Minnesotans decided to start underestimating their income when polled by Census.
- Black Minnesotans responded to the Michael Brown tragedy by quitting their jobs, and nobody at our state papers noticed.
- Hiring managers responded to "Black Lives Matter" by refusing to hire blacks. (but how would this get a 15% shift in only four months? And the Strib didn't pick up on this?)
In my view, the most likely issue at hand here is that there is something wrong with the Census Bureau's numbers. Perhaps their sample is too small, and they stumbled into a bunch of low income people. Perhaps they made some other error with their method.
However, whatever the real issue is, somebody needs to take a good look at these numbers, how they were collected, and what other numbers indicate about the status of blacks in our state. If it's not just error on the part of the Census Bureau, we're not talking about something that can be fixed with a governor's initiative, but rather something that just might involve prosecution.
If it is mostly an error on the part of the Census Bureau, then it's yet another example of how we may need to be very cautious when using government derived statistics--a famous example being how employment numbers for the past six years have been "unexpectedly" low. And that says a lot, I hope, to those politicians who would use government numbers to "manage" the economy.