Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), convened a roundtable to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on women in the workforce. The roundtable brought perspectives including business owners, technical assistance providers, and community development leaders to bring perspectives and voices from across Minnesota, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Minnesotans.
Participants at the roundtable discussed the challenges facing women in the workforce that have been deepened by the pandemic-particularly unbalanced caregiving responsibilities for children, the elderly, and other family members. Investments in lowering childcare costs and expanding access to childcare were a central part of the roundtable discussions. Participants also mentioned the unequal access to capital and technical assistance that women and especially BIPOC women face when considering entrepreneurship. Particular emphasis was placed on increasing opportunities for women-owned startups, as the economic downturn means that opportunity costs for attempting to start a new business are lower.
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led over 600,000 women to apply for unemployment insurance in Minnesota over the past year. Women are also more concentrated in the industries most impacted by job loss over the past twelve months. Women are also more likely than men to be at risk for long-term unemployment. During the roundtable discussion, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan highlighted several priorities for the Walz-Flanagan Administration that are designed to support women in the workforce, including reforms to the workforce development fund for retraining efforts, investment in the Minnesota workforce stabilization grant program, and continued efforts to encourage women to consider non-traditional employment in building trades, IT, and other sectors.