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Expert Alert: COVID-19’s Impact on Duluth’s Labor Force

Photo overlooking the Duluth harbor with the Lift Bridge and ship
April 23, 2020

Workforce development professionals can use labor market data to help mobilize resources for people who are unemployed.

Extension Expert John Bennett

Bennett provides community economics programming for the Center of Community Vitality and has been delivering community economics programming in northeast and east central Minnesota since 2007.

As a community economics educator, Bennet's programs address business retention and expansion, economic impact analysis, tourism issues, and retail economics. He is the past president of Business Retention and Expansion International and is involved with several collaborative economic development initiatives in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.  

U of M's John Bennett

Bennett says one of the challenges facing local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic is mobilizing resources to help unemployed workers.

Extension gathered data from the Economic Modeling Systems Incorporated (EMSI) workforce database and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) unemployment claims for Duluth, Minnesota and its immediate surrounding communities.

It found potential impacts on jobs, the service industry, hospitals, and potential future growth– detailed in this fact sheet about COVID-19’s impact on Duluth’s labor force.

"This data gives leaders a sense of how to prioritize their existing resources now to best meet the needs of both the workers and the community," says Bennett. 

Bennett points out two things that local economic and workforce development professionals need to prioritize right now, for both short and long term economic recovery: One is an effort to retain existing businesses and the other is workforce development--providing services to the local citizens who are finding themselves temporarily or permanently unemployed.

Contact information

John Bennett

Community Economics

University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality


Cloquet Regional Office

179 University Road

Cloquet, MN 55720