Southwest Minnesota is a national leader in agricultural production, and renewable energy.
The region's thriving manufacturing sector includes food processing, machinery, printing, metal products, and computers and electronic products.
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6/22/2020 9:00:00 AM
So far, Southwest Minnesota's economy has been the least susceptible to the coronavirus pandemic. The 23-county region has shown the smallest number of Unemployment Insurance (UI) applications, with just over 37,000 claims filed through May 26. Not only the smallest number, that is also the smallest share of the total labor force among the 6 regions in the state (see Table 1).
|Table 1. Unemployment Insurance Applications by Region||Apr. 2020 Labor Force||Cumulative UI Applications thru 5/26||UI Apps as a Percent of Apr. 2020 Labor Force|
|State of Minnesota||3,052,783||693,118||22.7%|
|Source: DEED UI Claims, LAUS|
Southwest Minnesota also reported the lowest unemployment rate when April data was released on May 26. Despite being the lowest, the regional unemployment rate in jumped to 6.9% in April 2020, up from 3.8% in March 2020. That was the 12th highest monthly rate on record for the region going back to January 1990; with the three highest rates logged in January through March of 2010, at the end of the Great Recession.
Eight of the 10 lowest county unemployment rates in the state are located in Southwest Minnesota, including three counties that are still below 4.5% - Rock (3.8%), Nobles (4.3%), and Pipestone (4.5%) – despite the increased level of UI claims activity. Only two counties in the region – Redwood (8.8%) and Le Sueur County (9.7%) had unemployment rates above the statewide rate (8.6%).
As the only metropolitan area in the region, the biggest monthly increase occurred in the Mankato/North Mankato MSA – Blue Earth and Nicollet County increased +4.5% and +3.8%, respectively. In contrast, two counties – Pipestone (-0.1%) and Lincoln County (-0.9%) actually saw a slight decline in unemployment rates over the past month (see Table 2).
|Table 2. Unemployment Statistics by County||Economic Development Region||Apr. 2020 Labor Force||Apr. 2020 Unemp. Workers||Apr. 2020 Unemp. Rate||Mar. 2020 Unemp. Rate|
|Rock County||Region 8||5,547||211||3.8%||2.5%|
|Nobles County||Region 8||11,065||474||4.3%||3.2%|
|Pipestone County||Region 8||4,634||207||4.5%||4.6%|
|Lincoln County||Region 8||3,146||146||4.6%||5.5%|
|Cottonwood County||Region 8||5,934||284||4.8%||4.0%|
|Jackson County||Region 8||5,598||290||5.2%||3.8%|
|Lyon County||Region 8||14,196||786||5.5%||4.0%|
|Watonwan County||Region 9||6,399||350||5.5%||4.6%|
|Lac qui Parle County||Region 6W||3,517||204||5.8%||5.0%|
|Murray County||Region 8||4,608||285||6.2%||6.1%|
|Big Stone County||Region 6W||2,397||157||6.5%||6.2%|
|Martin County||Region 9||9,807||645||6.6%||4.1%|
|Brown County||Region 9||14,230||936||6.6%||5.1%|
|Nicollet County||Region 9||21,064||1,421||6.7%||2.9%|
|Sibley County||Region 9||8,402||609||7.2%||4.9%|
|Yellow Medicine Co.||Region 6W||5,324||396||7.4%||4.1%|
|Blue Earth County||Region 9||41,174||3,183||7.7%||3.2%|
|Chippewa County||Region 6W||6,844||531||7.8%||4.4%|
|Waseca County||Region 9||8,959||719||8.0%||5.4%|
|Swift County||Region 6W||4,830||396||8.2%||5.4%|
|Faribault County||Region 9||6,913||587||8.5%||5.4%|
|Redwood County||Region 8||7,745||680||8.8%||4.6%|
|Le Sueur County||Region 9||15,935||1,550||9.7%||6.5%|
|Source: DEED Local Area Unemployment Statistics|
In sum, there were about 15,000 unemployed workers in April, which was nearly double the number reported in March. It is the highest number of unemployed workers in the region since 2011, though most are expecting their layoffs to be temporary. As more industries and businesses have implemented plans to safely reopen, many workers will be able to return to work.
Contact Labor Market Analysts Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or Mark Schultz.