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By the Numbers

By Mark Schultz
June 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the State of Minnesota, an impact unlike anything the state has ever seen. In the initial months a variety of things occurred in the state that really threw the state for a loop, including a loss of close to 300,000 jobs from the first to the second quarter of 2020 as well as executive orders that resulted in workers not being able to go to their jobs or having their hours decreased as the state navigated this uncharted territory. But just how many people were impacted by the pandemic? At its peak, the number of unemployed individuals in the state rested at almost 344,000 in May of 2020 according to DEED's Local Area Unemployment Statistics data (see Figure 1).

Another indicator of the number of people who were potentially impacted by the pandemic is available through DEED's Unemployment Insurance Statistics data, which provide weekly counts of new applicants and people reactivating their Unemployment Insurance accounts since March 16, 2020. According to these cumulative totals, there were close to 1.4 million applicants throughout the state from March 16, 2020 to August 19, 2021. As shown in Table 1, the largest number of applicants were in the metro region, including over 330,000 in Hennepin County, over 143,000 in Ramsey County, and almost 108,000 in Dakota County. Other regions showing representation by counties with the highest counts include the Northeast, Southeast, and Central regions of the state. On the other side of the coin however, the Northwest and Southwest regions saw counties with the lowest total applicants, including 479 in Kittson County and 361 in Traverse County.

Table 1. Cumulative Unemployment Insurance Applicants - Top and Bottom 10 Counties (3/16/2020 to 8/19/2021)

Lowest Total Applicants Highest Total Applicants
County Applicants Planning Region County Applicants Planning Region
Traverse 361 Northwest Wright 33,961 Central
Kittson 479 Northwest Scott 38,774 Metro
Wilkin 613 Northwest Stearns 41,727 Central
Lincoln 782 Southwest Olmsted 41,893 Southeast
Big Stone 832 Southwest Saint Louis 51,656 Northeast
Lac qui Parle 897 Southwest Washington 60,028 Metro
Rock 958 Southwest Anoka 97,598 Metro
Norman 963 Northwest Dakota 107,948 Metro
Red Lake 998 Northwest Ramsey 143,423 Metro
Stevens 1,200 Northwest Hennepin 332,414 Metro
Source: DEED Unemployment Insurance Statistics

Even with a vaccine available the future of Minnesota's labor market landscape is still uncertain. While things have begun to normalize and executive orders have been squashed, companies have resumed business and many employees have returned to work. However, as the Delta variant has begun to get its claws into Minnesota's population, the state of Minnesota's economy isn't out of the woods yet. Only time will tell if the state is on the mend or if the pandemic will ensue for an undetermined period of time yet.

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