An estimated 12 percent of southeast Minnesota's 272,000 workers have filed for unemployment since the closing of restaurants, bars and others businesses in March by Gov. Tim Walz's emergency orders to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Although Mayo Clinic looms as king among southeast Minnesota's employers, the unemployment data shows how varied the area's economic ecosystem is and how widely the economic pain has been spread.
One out of every three workers in Olmsted County, for example, works for a small business, said Bridget Tuck, a senior economic impact analyst for the University of Minnesota Extension. And many of those businesses have been impacted.
Food and beverage service workers in the region filed the greatest number of claims, according to the data, reflecting the impact that Walz's emergency decrees have had on bars and restaurants, which are only allowed to serve curbside or by delivery.
They were followed by construction workers, retail sales workers, cooks and food preparation workers, and personal appearance workers.
Looked at a different way: Personal appearance workers, such as beauticians, barbers and nail salon workers, took the biggest hit as a group in percentage terms. Nearly 90 percent of them in southeast Minnesota filed for unemployment when their businesses were shut down.
Although the jump in unemployment in southeast Minnesota was large, the region fared better than most other parts of the state. In the northeast and central regions, 17 percent of workers sought unemployment, followed by the northwest (15 percent) and the Twin Cities (14 percent). Southwest Minnesota saw 12 percent of its workforce file for unemployment.
The numbers do not reflect the most recent unemployment data released Thursday by the Department of Labor. That showed 3.8 million Americans filing for unemployment in the last week, bringing the six-week total to about 30 million.
Economists are only beginning to grapple with the long-term impact of these numbers. One unknown is how people's patterns of behavior will change as a result of the pandemic. The need for barbers and beauticians, for example, isn't going to change, so those businesses aren't likely to undergo lasting damage.
But other sectors, such as travel and tourism, could see significant change, Tuck said, as people try to get comfortable with the notion of traveling again. And tourism in southeast Minnesota, especially the healthcare variety, is big business.
"People's behavior may really change coming out of this," Tuck said. "So we'll have to watch how that effects even the tourism related to Mayo Clinic. There are a lot of people that come from a lot of different places to Mayo Clinic, and how their patterns change."
Tele-medicine has become a bigger part of Mayo's practice since the clinic began deferring elective surgery in anticipation of a wave of COVID-19 patients. And it will likely not return to its sideline status once hospitals return to normal business practice. But long-distance care means that patients are not coming to Rochester and spending their dollars on hotels, dining, recreation and other outlets.