MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Amid this outbreak, Minnesota has not been immune to soaring unemployment applications. Nearly 150,000 workers sought help in just the last week alone. Now, Pat Kessler explains how the state could face a job crisis worse than the Great Depression.

The Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis predicts by June, the U.S. unemployment rate could be 30%. That would be three times higher than the worst of the 2009 recession, which was 9.9% in Minnesota. But it would also be higher than the Great Depression, when Minnesota’s unemployment rate hit 24.6%.

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It’s all crashing faster than anyone expected.

The Minnesota department that tracks all of this — Employment and Economic Development — reports in just the last week 149,443 people applied for unemployment benefits. Compared to 2,500 per week just one year ago, now they’re getting 2,000 applications per hour.

The hardest hit group: bar and restaurant workers. There, 48,540 were laid off. Personal care and services like salons and spas, the rate is 10,844. Sales accounts for another 10,657, and 9,271 from office workers.

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What makes it worse in Minnesota is that this is just the beginning. State officials are bracing for hundreds of thousands of layoffs.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he is perplexed that President Donald Trump wants to “open up the country” in two weeks. In fact, even though the president has tremendous influence to recommend Americans go back to work, he cannot order Minnesota businesses to open. Only Walz can legally impose restrictions, and only the governor can remove them.

If you need to apply for unemployment benefits, it’s faster to do online than by telephone. Click here for the online application.

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Here are some sources we used for this Reality Check:

  • https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet
  • https://www.mnhs.org/mgg/depression/learn-more
  • https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-22/top-economists-see-some-echoes-of-depression-in-u-s-sudden-stop
  • https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-22/fed-s-bullard-says-u-s-jobless-rate-may-soar-to-30-in-2q
  • https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/
  • https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-22/fed-s-bullard-says-u-s-jobless-rate-may-soar-to-30-in-2q