Since March 16, Minnesota has received nearly 150,000 applications for unemployment insurance, state officials said in a conference call on Tuesday. Between March 16 and March 23, the state logged 149,443 unemployment insurance applications.
Unsurprisingly, the greatest portion of applications came from workers in the food industry. As the number of total applications has increased, the state has begun providing more granular data about the most affected groups.
Women are typically 33 percent of the applicants for unemployment filings, but that number has now jumped to 63 percent. “The closures have affected women more than men,” said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “We think in large part due to the high share of female employment in the leisure and hospitality and personal services industries.”
“From an age perspective, we’ve seen the plan shift downward demographically,” he noted.
The largest chunk of applications came from those between the ages of 22 and 29, who submitted 32,000 applications, Grove said. People without a four-year degree also made up a sizable portion of applicants.
With half of Minnesotans employed by small businesses, Grove said DEED is eager to get the state’s emergency loan program going. The government will start accepting applications by the end of the week.
During Tuesday’s conference call, Walz noted that now has 262 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with the greatest density of these cases in Hennepin County, which reported 103 cases. The global number of confirmed cases has reached 415,876 as of Tuesday night.
“Our data picture is coming into a lot more clarity,” Walz said, noting that experts at the University of Minnesota are close to providing better data analysis. The number that remains of chief concern for Walz? The number of days before the state reaches ICU capacity and peak infection.
“We think Minnesota is getting results that look different,” he said.
Minnesotans appear to be moving less and complying with social distancing orders, according to cell phone data and reports from the state’s department of transportation, Walz said. Traffic is down 40 percent in the Twin Cities metro, and down 26 percent in Greater Minnesota.
“Whatever is happening, Minnesotans seem to be social distancing to the point where we’re stretching out the peak infection rate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Walz didn’t say when or if a shelter in place order would be given. It appears he’s waiting for further data to make that call.
“I hope we’re not getting into this philosophical fight against those who say we should do all we can to protect life and stop this pandemic, and those who say we should protect the economy. It has to be both, and there is a way using data to think about it smartly,” Walz said. “Minnesota will do this the smart way.”