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The coronavirus shutdown is wreaking havoc on Minnesota’s economy

Last Monday, Governor Tim Walz ordered all Minnesota bars and restaurants to close temporarily for dine-in service starting Tuesday, the 17th, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The employment effects have quickly made themselves felt. On the 21st, the Star Tribune reported:

While many restaurants and breweries across the state are finding creative ways to offer food and beverages to go, others are deciding such a pivot is not fiscally feasible or safe during a time when Minnesotans are being urged not to come in close contact with one another.

Tom Hanson, the owner of four Duluth joints — including local favorites OMC Smokehouse and Duluth Grill — said he laid off 200 employees Thursday, when he made the decision to shut everything down.

Others — like Grandma’s Restaurant Company, which laid off 350 employees this week — are still serving meals with a bare-bones staff. “To-go and delivery are a good option. But they’re not a sustainable one,” said Brian Daugherty, president of Grandma’s.

That is 550 layoffs in four days in Duluth alone.

On Tuesday, the Science Museum of Minnesota announced that it will temporarily lay off 400 of its employees, leaving 87% of the museum’s staff out of work. Twin Cities museums alone have now laid off more than 600 people. A major concessionaire at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has laid off 156 employees.

The same is seen statewide. Twin Cities Business reports:

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.

Of course, as the demand for labor falls in some areas it is rising in others. The Pioneer Press reports:


Total: Expects to add 500 jobs in state across fulfillment centers and delivery network, according to an Amazon spokesperson.



Total: More than 50 jobs available in the Twin Cities metro area, according to the company’s website.



Total: Approximately 200 positions available for store associates, according to a Cub Foods spokesperson.

Apply: cub.com/community/careers.html


Total: About 150 open corrections officer positions available, according to a DOC spokesperson.



Total: Looking to hire about 600 new team members across more than 100 stores throughout the Twin Cities metro area, according to a press release



Total: Approximately 300 positions available ranging from nursing, nursing assistants, home health aides, and culinary staff, according to an Ebenezer spokesperson.



Total: More than 150 openings available in the Twin Cities metro area, according to an Ecumen spokesperson.



Total: More than 150 jobs available at the facility in Mahtomedi, according to a FedEx Ground spokesperson.



Total: Expect to add 200 to 500 jobs across five Twin Cities metro locations, according to a Home Instead Senior Care spokesperson.

Apply: homeinstead.com/home-care-jobs


Total: Nearly 100 various jobs available throughout the Twin Cities metro area, according to the company’s website.



Total: More than 200 various jobs available in Minnesota, including more than 50 that offer the ability to telecommute, according to a UHG spokesperson.



Total: Approximately 50 positions available between distribution centers in Hopkins and Prescott, Wisconsin, according to a UNFI spokesperson.



Total: Expects to hire more than 2,600 associates to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers by the end of May, according to a press release.


This is good to see but it does not go very far towards re-employing the more than 95,000 Minnesotans who have lost their jobs in the last couple of weeks. The economic cost of Minnesota’s war against the coronavirus is already very high indeed.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 




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