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AV CHAMBER NOTE: TODAY’S DEED led meeting and other Commissioners is more about stats and clarifications on things ranging from banquet/restaurant seating to foreclosures. The Governor did not have any announcements today nor this week.
—DEED Commissioner: The 1st section reviews all the stats (UI, Jobs etc.).
—Commerce: Covid bills
—Dept. Labor & Industry: Workers Comp increases
—Revenue: Property Tax refunds
—House passed bonding bill (in Senate today)
—Administration: Entire section on testing for Covid
—Restaurants can have 10 to table, what about banquets?
—Governor’s MUST WORK FROM HOME IF CAN likely to stay
—Most MN offices staffed 10% (Dallas high at 30%)
—Naming businesses who received state grants
—Unemployment Insurance, possible reductions in taxes by some
—Foreclosures: Title Companies
2020 10 15 Call, DEED
Thursday, October 15, 2020
11:00 AM
Robert Doty, Asst Commissioner of Revenue
Peter Brickwedde, Asst Commissioner of Commerce
Erin Campbell, Asst Commissioner Administration
Mark Zimmer, staff, DEED
Steve Grove, DEED
Kevin McKinnon, Deputy Commissioner for ED, DEED
Darielle Dannon, Legislative Director, DEED
Nicole Blissenbach, DLI
DEED, Steve Grove
·        September jobs report. www.Mn.gov/deed.
o   UI rate is down to 6.0%. Was at 7.4% before, so a good drop.
o   Primary reason for drop as labor participation rate down to 68.4%, lowest since 1978. around 56K workers in our market stopped the job search in the last month. discouraging.
o   That despite the abundance of jobs that ARE available.
o   National rate remains at 7.9%.
o   Jobs picture continues to improve in Sep, adding 14,800 payroll jobs, up 1/2%. Added 21K jobs in private sector, loss of 6200 jobs in govt. mostly in local govt due to lack of revenues.
o   Almost all sectors saw growth in jobs. Led by education and health services, up by 6100 jobs.
o   Prof services up 6800 jobs
o   Admin support services up
o   Mostly 1/2% or less in terms of growth…
o   Lost 387,000 from Feb to Apr.
o   Since gained back 189K jobs.
o   Compared to US: across the country job #s are down 6.9% and we’re down 6.7%.
o   Regional trends: job loss in the NE and Cities remain the most challenged areas in the state. Down 6.7% in cities (across sectors), down 8.6% in Duluth/Superior (heavy hospitality industry and health care facilities…).
·        Many sectors are hiring across the state
o   Roundtable with mftrs and Gov/LTG last week… how much hiring is still happening in this sector.
o   Highlight: mftrs and many others are hiring for really great jobs right now. If you are getting discouraged or uncertain if shirting careers makes sense, we want to encourage.
o   Next week DEED launches “Good Jobs Now” campaign. #GoodJobsNow. If you are hiring, create videos/messages outlining the jobs you’re hiring for. Will post on website, interactive map, videos posted…
o   Will push to unemployed workers across the state.
o   In your communities, ask businesses to contribute. Companies hiring and struggling to do so, send videos and promote on #GoodJobsNow. Will drive traffic to the site.
o   Wanting to help alleviate market inefficiency, with lots out of work and lots of open jobs.
Commerce, Brickwedde
·        Relatively small # of COVID-related calls into Consumer Services Ctr.
·        Tracking at legislature: House File 15: expect Senate to pass today. Proposal allows in certain RE transactions for remote notarization of documents to facilitate social distancing. Led by MN Land Title Assn and coalition. Ww Secretary of State, should pass today, House passed earlier this week.
DLI, Nicole Blissenbach
·        Workers Comp claims every 2 weeks
o   Since last report, added another 537 claims. 10% increase.
o   Beginning of Oct saw more claims than in last 9 weeks.
o   Seeing increase in # of claims from education sector, tied to re-start of schools.
Revenue, Doty
·        Property tax refund time.
·        Metrics: as of this week received 825,000 returns, have processed 799,000 of those. 97%.
·        Tracking 71-72% are doing this electronically.
·        As a dept starting to prepare for 2021 filing season. More to share as time goes on.
·        Legislative Session: tracking very closely. House passed bonding tax bill and supplemental budget bill. Will see what happens with Senate today. Working on some elements at Revenue.
Administration, Erin Campbell
·        Has been on COVID reassignment.
·        Disproportionate impact on LTC facilities.
·        LTC battle plan rolled out in April.
o   Testing and supplies
o   Staffing
o   PPE
o   Leveraging partnerships
·        1st push in May was for testing. Worked with Natl Guard for testing. Got contracts in place for swabbing. Today, that testing is being done by those contractors.
·        Moving forward, new testing alternatives. Though there is a time and a place for all for max effectiveness. State saliva lab, for ex, is good for staff but not always feasible for residents.
·        Fed govt has faster point of care testing options… care needs to be taken to ensure they are used appropriately and are reliable. Helpful when regular testing is going on.
·        State still has significant testing capacity for swabbing teams.
·        Testing team spends a lot of time removing barriers for facilities. Includes teaching to swab themselves, creating connections with labs, nurse triage line and testing results, developed forms/FAQs, answered questions…
·        Proper infection control protocols are essential.
·        MDH has augmented staff teams around infection control, surveys for compliance… best practices and interventions have been developed and shared. Most recent updates were just pushed out.
·        Recent guidance from Federal Medicare/Medicare Services
o   Increased testing in skilled nursing facilities based on incidence within counties. Lower incidence = 1 test/mth. Higher incidence = weekly testing.
o   Expanded visitation allowed in some facilities. Does raise the risk, as does the isolation itself.
·        Significant hurdle: really significant staffing shortages. Long term issue, pre-COVID as well. But is of particular concern right now. When staff gets sick, a facility can quickly get into crisis staffing situation. Situation is quite serious at this point.
·        A number of facilities across the state are in very difficult circumstances now.
·        Have used National Guard in certain circumstances where staffing problems are so acute. Have gotten help from Fed VA, FEMA, occasionally able/willing to send assistance.
·        Also working with a staffing vendor to provide assistance. That pool is eligible for higher rate of hazard pay. Ww DHS on that, got approval from Legislature…
·        On Wed, in partnership w/DEED, we sent email to 77K+ UI participants offering them job opportunities in this sector.
·        Most drastic measures would include: we would have to consider evacuating facilities, moving residents to other facilities…. Could require COVID positive staff working. Which is the last thing we want.
·        Impact of community spread: this is a significant concern for those of us working in LTC. Staff and visitors will continue bringing the virus in to a very vulnerable populations.
·        Planning for an anticipated vaccine.
1.      I have a business, paid employee for 2 weeks when she stayed home due to daycare closure due to virus. Looking for business loans/grant programs to pay for that. Blissenbach: if you are employer subject to FFCRA (fewer than 500 FETs), there are tax credits available towards qualified leave. Check IRS website for guidance.
2.      Nov 15 is Sunday, when invoices/payments are due on the next Monday. So Nov 16. does this mean Cities may expand CARES Act funds to 11/16, though 11/15 is the deadline for expenditures? Grove: that’s a good technical question. Doty: will check on that, is an MMB question. Will get answer to that quickly.
3.      Dept of Health and DEED: restaurants have now moved to 10 per table. Does this apply to banquet facilities? Grove: I assume that means event space… Language did refer specifically to restaurants. For wedding venues, for ex, no change in table or venue sizes. New guidance was specific to restaurants.
4.      With the uptick in cases, is it less likely that the Governor will rescind the “must” work from home? When might a change occur? Grove: we get this question almost every day, recognize it is a top concern. We continue to actively discuss… loneliness is a real issue, and real economic impact in the communities for people back in the office… across the country we are seeing single digits of % in-office. Dallas is about #1 at maybe 30%. Most everywhere it’s in <10%. EO certainly still is clear, but we know it’s important and the ability to tweak that will continue. Nothing to share about a change soon coming.
5.      Are local NPs still processing small business relief grants to businesses? Or has that process completed? Will state be releasing which businesses received the grants? McKinnon: we are roughly 90% of the way through the grants. There were some swaps in first round based on eligibility, the NPs are now looking at those “swaps” for eligibility. Re sending info out to local units of govt, they can always send an email to our Small Business Office and request that. But all of grants and who go the $ won’t be released till it’s completed.
6.      UI: will there be any tax relief for employers electing reimbursement rather than paying into UI? Grove: great question, something we’re evaluating right now. Q4 bills will be coming soon… a host of provisions to analyze here. Fed govt is taking this 50% off the top. Provision in statute that says if there is an active nature that inhibits you from keeping your entire co employed and requires to lay off 25%, you may qualify for further reductions in taxes. So it’s case by case and how pandemic has impacted an individual company. Have delayed reimbursing employers yet, due to lack of clarity in federal law… now cleared that up. And had to concentrate on getting lost wages program $ out the door first. now focusing on this issue and should process these bills in coming months.
7.      Is there any consideration being made to allow processing foreclosures in a responsible manner? Businesses that do this work are struggling, i.e. title companies. Businesses are really struggling. Grove: that’s an interesting one. Supporting companies that process foreclosures… this is the first I’ve heard of this… Doty: this has not come up in our dept but am happy to take that back and pose the question.
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