Over 3K file for unemployment in Mower County

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, May 28, 2020

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Unemployment numbers in the United States took another stiff climb last week. An estimated 2.1 million Americans applied for benefits as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on the American economy.

These most recent numbers raised the total of Americans seeking benefits to around 41 million, according to federal government numbers released on Thursday.

This is despite the fact that while the country gradually begins reopening, businesses and their workers are still suffering amidst the pandemic.

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To date,  711,057 people in Minnesota have applied for unemployment.

In Mower County, the newest numbers show that 3,332 residents have filed for unemployment since March 15, which comes out to 16.1 percent of the annual labor force in 2019, according to Minnesota Employment and Economic Development.

“We’re definitely seeing a reduced demand in jobs available,” said Mike Postma, career planner and employment outreach specialist for CareerForce in Austin. “There are still some critical job postings, but for instance, a lot of seasonal hiring you see ramp up this month didn’t.”

Included in that are a good number of jobs in areas like summer employment for Parks and Recreation and those working in summer camps that simply are not hiring.

“A lot of student age hiring didn’t happen,” Postma said.

Predictably, those Mower County workers most harmed by the pandemic and shut down of businesses have been food and beverage serving workers (288), followed by construction trade workers (204) and retail sales workers (184).

However, there are a couple rays of optimism, particularly in manufacturing, where Postma is still seeing work available.

“Yes I am (seeing jobs) and it’s still in the manufacturing sector,” he said. “We still have a lot of manufacturing that keeps running. It’s essential.”

Postma also pointed out that compared to surrounding counties, Mower County is faring better in terms of the annual workforce currently unemployed.

Aside from Fillmore County, which is also at 16.1 percent, Freeborn (18.2 percent), Olmsted (23.7 percent), Dodge (20.2 percent) and Waseca (20.6) all have a higher percentage of the 2019 workforce looking for unemployment.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story