The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on employment in Minnesota, both in terms of scope and of speed.

Over six weeks, beginning March 16 through April 25, a total of 556,897 workers across Minnesota applied for Unemployment Insurance (UI).

In comparison, during the height of the Great Recession, the state saw about 454,000 total UI applicants during all of 2009.

To help track UI applications by day, occupation, education level, gender, race and ethnicity, region and more, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) developed the daily and weekly unemployment insurance statistics dashboard. This tool, first posted in early April, provides a useful source of the most current information available for community leaders, economic development organizations, media and others.

While the number of weekly UI applicants is still very large in comparison to normal, the numbers of new applications week over week have been decreasing since April 4.

Minnesota workers affected by COVID-19 were among the first in the country to be assisted through emergency benefits aimed at helping them through this difficult and uncertain time. These emergency benefits include a temporary additional $600 weekly payment to supplement their regular UI weekly compensation, as well as up to a 13-week extension of benefits for those who are eligible.

In addition, now some self-employed individuals are also eligible for assistance through pandemic unemployment assistance.

There have been just over 28,150 UI applications filed by workers in southwest Minnesota from March 16 through April 28. That was nearly double the number of UI claims filed over the entire year in 2019, when 15,489 UI claims were tallied – almost as many as the total number for 2009, at the peak of the Great Recession, when there were 32,464 UI claims filed by workers in the southwest Minnesota region.

Not only is the speed of the increase in UI in 2020 far faster than in 2009, but the gender ratio of people filing UI claims is also very different.

Comparing March 2009 to March 2020, DEEDhas seen that more than two-thirds of UI claims were filed by males in 2009, while the percentages are flipped in 2020, with nearly two-thirds of UI claims filed by females.

In March 2009, the most impacted jobs were in the male-dominated manufacturing and construction industries. In March 2020, most UI claims were in the female dominated accommodation and food services, personal care services, and health care and social assistance industries.

While there were still a lot of claims in manufacturing and construction in March 2020, they accounted for a much smaller share of total claims compared to 2009.

Even with those large numbers of regional UI applications over the past six weeks, southwest Minnesota has overall been the least impacted among all six planning regions in new UI applications.

This is because the southwest region has the smallest share of total employment in the leisure and hospitality industry of the six planning regions in the state.

With more than 14,000 jobs in leisure a hospitality, which includes restaurants, hotels and casinos, only 8 percent of total jobs in the region were in the industry that was most directly and immediately impacted as compared to the state average of 10 percent and the northeast region which has the highest employment in this industry at 13.2 percent.

For more information, contact labor market analysts Luke Greiner at (320) 308-5378 or Mark Schultz at (507) 205-6068 or visit the DEED Web site at