Nearly 150,000 jobless claims filed since March 16, most from women and food service workers

    Gov. Tim Walz on Friday announced a pair of initiatives aimed at helping people enroll in health insurance coverage during the COVID-19 coverage and help emergency workers find child care. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer

    Minnesota received nearly 150,000 jobless claims during a week-long period ending Monday, with a large bulk coming from women and food service workers. 

    Steve Grove, the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, said the agency received 149,443 unemployment insurance claims. A large majority came from first-time applicants whose jobs have been cut amid the sudden and widespread shuttering of the state’s economy. 

    More than 48,000 of those applications came from food service workers who are bearing the brunt of Gov. Tim Walz’s recent executive order closing dine-in services for restaurants and bars. The next largest sectors experiencing layoffs included personal care workers, sales and services and office and administration. 

    Grove said more than 60% of jobless claims are coming from women — nearly double the usual rate.  

    Grove also said DEED is working to set up a small-business loan assistance program that could be online as early as the end of this week. 

    Walz, who is in self quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19 from a member of his security detail, kicked off Tuesday’s briefing by reporting he is still symptom-free and feeling well while he works from home. 

    Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm also gave an update on the state’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases, which now stand at 262. 

    Malcolm said that figure is an undercount given widespread testing shortages that are prioritizing some people over others.  “We should all be acting with the assumption that the virus is circulating in our communities,” she said.

    The call did not feature major developments following a flurry of executive orders by Walz recently that have closed schools, mobilized the state’s National Guard to deliver personal protective equipment and other actions

    But he did say he is planning on extending his order to keep dine-in services at bars and restaurants closed, without specifying a timeline. 

    That decision would be counter to an announcement by President Donald Trump, who says he hopes to restart large segments of the U.S. economy by Easter, April 12.

    Ricardo Lopez
    Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.