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By the Numbers

by James Spector-Bishop
April 2020

Local Unemployment and Local Coronavirus

Between March and April of this year unemployment in Minnesota rose dramatically from 2.9 percent to 8.1 percent. This is the first time Minnesota’s unemployment has cracked 8 percent since 2009 and is potentially the highest it has been since 1983. However, although unemployment has risen in all but Lincoln and Pipestone counties, some areas of Minnesota have been impacted more than others. It appears that the regions most affected are the Twin Cities Metro and Northeast Minnesota, having both the highest unemployment rates and the largest increases in unemployment rate. To some degree the rise in unemployment corresponds with the local extent of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to experiencing unemployment, the Metro area has also been hit hard by the pandemic, comprising most of the cases in the state and some of the highest numbers of confirmed cases per capita. Meanwhile, Northwest Minnesota and Winona County have both a small number of cases and relatively low unemployment rates. This relationship often does not hold, however. Although it has perhaps the highest rate of COVID-19 cases per capita, Southwest Minnesota has the lowest unemployment rate and the smallest rise in unemployment in Minnesota. In spite of a high per capita number of cases, unemployment in Benton and Stearns Counties also remain relatively low. Meanwhile the reverse appears to be true in Northeast Minnesota, where, despite having a small number of COVID-19 cases, unemployment has risen dramatically, likely from a decline in tourism. The pandemic appears to be affecting employment differently in different regions of the state. Some areas have seen higher unemployment and infections coincide, while other regions have so far experienced only one or the other.


Map - COVID-19 cases, Minnesota counties, 5/24/2020

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