Minnesota receives record 95,300 unemployment applications following COVID-19 closures

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has received a record 95,352 unemployment applications this week following the cancelation of large public gatherings and the closure of entertainment, fitness and beauty businesses and dine-in service at restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic

That number is expected to rise by the end of the week. The previous record of unemployment applications the state received in a week was about 18,000. 

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said two-thirds of the unemployment applications were from those in the service industry. He added that many of the people applying for unemployment have not applied for it before. 

Grove spoke at a joint press conference on Friday along with Gov. Tim Walz, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly and Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann. 

The closure of many businesses for the foreseeable future led to mass layoffs throughout the state. In anticipation of layoffs, Walz signed an executive order ensuring all employees impacted by the spread of COVID-19 would have full access to unemployment benefits. The order also requires the state’s unemployment system to speed up payments to newly laid off workers. 

Unemployment checks cover half of a person’s typical wages, Grove said. Unemployment benefits last for up to 26 weeks.