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Unemployment numbers show industries still hurting from COVID-19

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DULUTH, MN-- As the coronavirus continues to spread, unemployment numbers continue to rise.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, employers across the nation cut 140,000 jobs in December.

While Minnesota hasn't released data yet, experts with the Department of Economics and Employment believe the trends are looking the same.

"In November when a lot of these data are collected that was prior to the most recent round of COVID-19 restrictions that were enacted by the state," said DEED Northeast Regional Analyst, Carson Gorecki. "So, it's likely we will see some decline."

Across the country, the leisure and hospitality industries have taken the biggest hit.

Duluth's Director of Work Force Development, Elena Foshay says, while the summer season went well, roughly 7,000 industry jobs in the Duluth area have been lost since the start of the pandemic.

"I think we're going to kind of be in a lull until next summer," said Foshay. "There are high hopes, once the weather starts to warm up again our tourism sector will recover."

Data analysts say one trend they're seeing, is more people leaving the labor force altogether.

"Labor force participation has declined more so than unemployment has increased," said Gorecki. "So that means people have just stopped looking for work and chosen to leave the labor force for a number of reasons."

Meanwhile, Foshay believes this could impact the trends as we head into 2021.

"Employers who are hiring right now are having a hard time. There's just not a lot of slack in the labor force, there's not a lot of people looking for work right now for various reasons," she said.

DEED analysts say the education and healthcare industries saw a loss of 3,000 jobs in the Duluth area initially.

But, have since gained back 60% of those jobs which they say is an above-average recovery rate.

According to Foshay, roughly 5,000 people in St. Louis County are currently claiming unemployment benefits.

This number is down from the peak of the pandemic when that number was around 15,000.

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Emma Quinn

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