The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has already wrought on the United States economy—with the possible exception of the Great Depression—is unprecedented. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April and in the same month the official unemployment rate rose more than three-fold to 14.7 percent, both record increases.
Economic Impact Payments and other initiatives that are part of The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act have provided some immediate assistance. Nonetheless, millions of American households are currently struggling as never before. Here in Minnesota, the cumulative unemployment insurance claims have jumped from just a few thousand in mid-March to more than 650,000 today. And, in Ramsey County alone, one in five workers has filed for unemployment since the crisis began.
There is no question that COVID-19 affects all of us, yet low-income residents, particularly people of color and immigrants, are significantly more vulnerable to both the economic and health-related burdens of the novel coronavirus. Although no industry has been immune during this time, the retail and hospitality sectors have shouldered the brunt of this catastrophe disproportionately impacting low-wage workers and historically marginalized populations. Moreover, the safety net that many households rely on, Minnesota’s nonprofit community lost an estimated $1 billion during the month of April.
That said, there is hope, and there is help. As Ramsey County’s WorkForce Centers remain closed for the time being, assistance is available by calling 651-266-9890 or visiting them online. If you or someone you know needs to file for unemployment insurance, please use the Applicant Self Service System either online or by phone.
Likewise, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) offers a Dislocated Worker Program that provides assistance in a number of areas including job training, employment searches, and career planning, as well as support for aspiring entrepreneurs through its CLIMB (Converting Layoffs into Minnesota Business) Program.
And, for more information on the programs and services of Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties or for our comprehensive list of COVID-19 resources, please visit us at caprw.org.