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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz loosened some of the COVID-19 restrictions that have shut down businesses for months.

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That’s some good news, but it may not be enough to ease massive unemployment around the state.

The COVID chaos stopped Minnesota’s booming economy in its tracks. Since March 16, 656,000 Minnesota workers filed for unemployment benefits — more people than Minneapolis, Rochester and Duluth combined.

That’s enough Vikings fans to fill U.S. Bank Stadium 10 times.

The vast majority of laid-off workers: Bar and restaurant, retail stores and health care. They are among the lowest-paid workers in the state, who are least likely to afford it.

Minnesota’s jobless numbers are approaching Great Depression levels, and the experts say many of these jobs aren’t coming back.

Minnesota’s legacy hospitality industry has laid of 80% of its workers.

READ MORE: Why The Real Unemployment Rate Is Actually Even Worse

Without swift action, there are predictions that many shuttered family businesses may never reopen.

The Minnesota Hospitality Association warns, “the economic ripples will be massive for years to come. No industry has been hit harder than the hospitality industry and if we do not act now, it is to all of our collective economic peril.”

Minnesota is one of 48 states cautiously lifting restrictions — even though it has not met White House guidelines of 14 straight days of declining COVID cases.

Protests demanding governors immediately “liberate” the economy? Doctors say it means more infections. And economists predict unemployment levels will stay high for the rest of 2020
and most of 2021.

READ MORE: Man Found Stabbed To Death Inside Minneapolis Apartment

Wisconsin reports that more than half a million workers — 511,567 — have applied for unemployment benefits related to the coronavirus shutdown.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

Click to access BFI_WP_202059.pdf

Click to access 69b539_318834505a244cf2a22a10a7300b4a09.pdf

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