The effects of COVID-19 have not been felt evenly across industries, occupational groups, or geography. For the protection of public health, the first wave of executive orders from the Governor’s Office compelled the closure of non-essential businesses and businesses that typically require close customer contact. Executive Order 20-04 closed many doors in the Leisure & Hospitality industry effective March 17. Accordingly, weekly UI application data beginning March 16 show us that statewide, the first two weeks of COVID-19 related UI applications were dominated by applications from workers in food preparation and serving related occupations. As the shutdown continued, other types of businesses began to feel the effects as well. The number of applications began to decrease the week ending April 11, following an initial rush of applications (over 338,000 in the first three weeks), and some occupations with low impacts during the first three weeks experienced relative increases in claims shares over the following three weeks. Of the ten occupational groups with the largest shares of UI applications in Minnesota, only Food Preparation & Serving Related and Personal Care & Service showed relative declines from week one to week six. (See Figure 1).
Unemployment Insurance (UI) applications in Northeast Minnesota followed many of the same trends as the state overall. During the first week of March 16-21, almost half of all the UI applications were from those working in Food Preparation & Serving Related occupations. Whereas the absolute numbers of UI applications in all occupations declined week over week, Food Preparation & Serving Related remained the occupational group with largest overall share, accounting for nearly a quarter of all claims in the region between March 16 and April 25 (see Figure 2, note that 11% of all UI applications did not include occupation information. Source: DEED Unemployment Insurance Statistics).
By comparison, in 2019, just 10.4 percent of total jobs in the region were in Food Preparation & Serving Related occupations, further indication of disproportionate impacts. Similarly, Construction & Extraction occupations accounted for over 9 percent of UI claims, but only 4.3 percent of employment. Conversely, Office & Administrative support positions represented 14.1 percent of jobs in the region and only 8.3 percent of claims, appearing more insulated from COVID-19 effects.
As the share of claims from Food Preparation & Serving occupations declined significantly from March 16, the shares of applications from 14 of the 21 other occupational groups grew. During the most recent week ending April 25, Sales & Related (244), Construction & Extraction (315), and Healthcare Practitioners & Technical (336) occupations all had higher numbers of claims than Food Preparation & Serving Related occupations (227).
This switch points toward the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 impacts experienced by employers and workers. The effects appear to be spreading to reach industries and occupations that may have been initially insulated. To help officials understand the potential scale of COVID-19 impacts on local labor markets, the Labor Market Information Office compiled regional profiles on select industries. As longer-term projects and orders are delayed, reduced, or canceled, and demand for many goods and services drops, additional occupational groups and industries will likely experience negative impacts.
For more information, contact Northeast Minnesota Labor Market Analyst Carson Gorecki at 218-302-8413.