Minnesota unemployment disproportionately impacts women, young people

Business closures due to COVID-19 have affected women and young workers disproportionately, according to an update from Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove.

A week ago, Governor Tim Walz ordered the closure of thousands of businesses in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Since the closures and reduced service went into effect, workers across the state have been signing up for unemployment insurance.

DEED Commissioner Grove says from March 16 to March 23 DEED has received 149,443 new applications for unemployment insurance. Here's the breakdown:

  • 48,540 from food prep/services 
  • 10,844 personal care/service 
  • 10,657 sales/service 
  • 9,271 office/administrative

However, Grove says his staff has noticed that the closures have affected women more than men.

"We usually see female applicants come in at 33% of the population who are applying for unemployment insurance, and that has jumped to 63%," said Grove. "We think this is in large part due to the high share of female employment in leisure and hospitality and personal services industries."

Grove says Millenials also make up the largest age demographic signing up for unemployment.

"From an age perspective, we’ve seen a share of claims shift downward demographically," he said. "The largest age window of applicants for unemployment insurance is those aged between 22 and 29. We’ve had 32,000 applicants come in at that window."

Grove encouraged impacted Minnesotans to apply, but due to an increase of calls, he urged those who have already applied to wait before calling back with questions. For information on applying, click here.

DEED is also working on setting up an emergency small business loan program as outlined in Monday's Governor Walz's executive order. Grove says DEED is setting up the program with 23 lenders across the state and plans to have the program so they can start accepting applications by the end of the week.

"We know half of all Minnesotans work for a small business, so this is a critical support line we’re eager to get moving to bridge the gap that so many businesses here will face," said Grove.