Unemployment rate hit record 9.9 percent in Minnesota in May

The rate is now expected to improve with more businesses allowed to reopen.
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Minnesota's unemployment rate hit a seasonally adjusted record of 9.9 percent in May, the highest seen since modern records began in 1976.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development released the figure on Thursday, saying it captures the job situation "immediately prior to the lifting of the Stay at Home order and the phased reopening of non-Critical Sector businesses in the state."

It stands to reason then that unemployment should drop in June given that more businesses have been allowed to reopen – including the loosening of restrictions for the hard-hit hospitality industry, with restaurants now allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.

Nonetheless, the figures highlight the major toll COVID-19 has taken on the state, with lockdowns imposed in mid-March to limit the spread of the virus.

Hospitalization, infection, and deaths rates have been slowing in recent weeks, suggesting the state may be over the worst for now, though epidemiologists have cautioned that there could be a second wave in the fall.

Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, Minnesota did see a 0.4 percent increase in payroll jobs, with 9,800 added in May.

The private sector added 27,500 jobs, while government jobs dropped 17,700.

The sectors that saw the largest increases were leisure and hospitality, up 13,800 jobs, followed by accommodation and food service with 11,900.

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"Our economy is facing an unprecedented challenge, which these numbers reflect. Slight job increases this month are a positive sign, but the employment rebound will continue to vary greatly by sector," said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove.

"DEED is working with other state agencies, business and labor leaders and public health experts to get Minnesotans back to work as quickly and safely as possible."

Minnesota's unemployment rate is still better than the national rate, which in May was 13.3 percent.

In total, the number of unemployed people in Minnesota stood at 302,741, an increase of 35,770 compared to April.

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