Resources available to address surge in unemployment

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette

Since March 16, 2020, the start of the COVID-19 emergency order and up until Aug. 5 nearly 900,000 Minnesotans have applied for unemployment benefits. This is more than seven times the number of those who applied during the great recession of 2009.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) reports that the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in May, the highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate recorded in Minnesota.

However, the unemployment rate is dropping; it was 8.5 percent in June.

The U.S. unemployment rate is currently at 11.2 percent.

Redwood County is faring much better with an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.

In fact, the whole southwest Minnesota region has the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

Occupations most impacted by the shutdown include food and beverage servers, cooks and food prep workers, manufacturing and construction trade workers.

This is truly an unprecedented time.

The unemployment insurance (UI) office at DEED has been overwhelmed by applicants. The best way to apply for UI or follow up with questions is through the UI Web site at The public can also apply by phone, although wait times can be long. Interpreters are available upon request.

The UI office is requesting that new applicants apply on their assigned day to ensure the system can handle the increased activity.

For more information, the public is encouraged to go to the Web site. Those who are receiving unemployment and an employer calls you back to work, are likely required to return.

An employer has a right to raise an issue if they believe you should not be eligible for benefits.

The federal CARES Act authorized an additional $600 per week payment for unemployment recipients – but that extra payment has now ended, and it is not clear when the extra $400 per week President Trump recently authorized will be readily available. 

These uncertainties will undoubtedly make a dramatic difference in families’ incomes.

CareerForce is available to help people find a job now. Services are available to help people find the right work for them as quickly as possible. Job search assistance, resume writing help, interview prep, networking advice and much more are available.

The local CareerForce location will know who is hiring and what occupations are high in demand.

People who have been laid off and are receiving unemployment benefits may be eligible for customized employment and training services through the dislocated worker program to help prepare for their next job.

The public is encouraged take advantage of the free employment and training resources available.

Check it out by calling CareerForce at (507) 476-4040 or by visiting its Web site at