DULUTH, MN-- The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hurt Minnesota's unemployment rate.
According to the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development the Leisure & Hospitality sector-led job losses in December with a decline of more than 41,000 crediting the fall to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"The amount of job loss in the hospitality businesses has been devastating," said DFL Representative Andrew Carlson of the Twin Cities area.
New legislation announced Monday could have a big impact on those laid-off hospitality workers.
"House file 39 seeks to addNew MN bill would require hospitality industry to rehire workersress the situation by requiring hospitality employers to rehire their workers right off the pandemic when it makes sense to start hiring again," said Rep. Carlson.
The worker protection bill was introduced by DFL Representative Andrew Carlson and State House Democrats.
"The bill will help maintain established employee-employer relationships which are critical for the speed of overall economic recovery."
Interim Executive Director at the DECC, Roger Reinert agrees, "I think anyone who has been at the DECC knows that it's the employees that make it a wonderful experience."
Reinert adds the DECC had to furlough more than 300 employees, "many part-time some fulltime."
Reinert said with or without a bill the DECC will be looking at former employees when the time comes to rehire.
"They are the ones that know how to run the DECC and create a good guest experience."
The bill applies to Minnesotans employed by hotels, airports, event centers, and the facilities attached to them among others.
Carlson adds hospitality employees hit the hardest have been people of color.
"At hotels especially laid-off workers are 90% people of color and mostly women. Ensuring the rights of these workers to return to the jobs they held pre-pandemic is a critical issue for racial justice as our economy recovers from COVID-19."