I have a lot of updates below, so my intro today is short.
I’m beginning to hear from a few of you – which means there are many more of you out there – who are really struggling with questions and can’t find answers. Please reach out. Remember we have a Rapid Response Team to address COVID-19 inquiries. Our purpose is to help you, so please let us know how we can do so and contact us if your questions aren't being answered.
The $1200 individual payments from the federal government are being disbursed to 171 million residents (with Adjusted Gross Income below $75,000) and should come quickly via direct deposit if you file taxes with that option. Alternately, Treasury is urging consumers to provide their direct deposit information via one of two online applications in order to accelerate the process of disbursing stimulus funds. If you still prefer a physical check, anticipate a real delay – perhaps months. Payments already are being received, starting with the lowest wage earners and capping at $100,000.
COVID-19 update, 4/15/2020 Confirmed cases in Minnesota: from 1242 to 1809 Confirmed cases in U.S. (as of 4/13): almost 560,000 Confirmed cases globally (as of 4/13): over 1.86M Cases requiring hospitalization: from 361 to 445 #s currently hospitalized: from 157 to 197 #s no longer needing to be isolated: from 842 to 940 #s tested: from 38,427 to 40,242 Total deaths in Minnesota: from 70 to 87 Total deaths in U.S. (updated 4/13): close to 22,000 Total deaths globally (updated 4/13): close to 115,000 Counties represented: Hennepin County: from 557 to 651 Ramsey County: from 152 to 164 Dakota County: from 95 to 103 Washington County: from 80 to 88
Unemployment (as of 4/14): Total Unemployment Insurance applications since 03/16/2020: 440,000
Past three weeks have seen steadily decreasing weekly totals applications
Last week Minnesota was the first state in the country to issue the $600 “top off” payments for Unemployment Insurance
Current unemployment level is at approximately 11%
Monday’s major announcement by Governor Walz was a new Executive Order extending the Peacetime Emergency due to the COVID-19 virus through May 13. Note that this does not extend the Stay at Home order that currently runs through midnight on May 3.
Metro Mobility now providing free, direct, on-demand transportation for all health care workers from home to work 24 hours a day.
Regarding the question of off-sale liquor for restaurant orders, Walz is supportive and wants the legislature to pass it so he can sign it into law.
In addition, this week the Minnesota Legislature continues its work on COVID and non-COVID related items.
State Budget forecast:
Monday’s update from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) Commissioner Myron Frans and State Economist Dr. Laura Kalambokidis noted the economic outlook has dramatically changed since the February forecast. The U.S. economy has sharply weakened and Minnesota’s fiscal outlook is unclear. The U.S. economy is experiencing a 7-point swing in GDP growth, with a 5.4% contraction, mostly due to the marked decrease in consumer spending and confidence plus massive uptick in unemployment.
In Minnesota, both general fund receipts and income tax withholding are down, due to decrease in consumer spending, an increase in unemployment, an increase in income tax refund processing, and the delay of income tax payments to July 15th. Corporate tax receipts are tracking about $21M ahead of the forecast, but Dr. Kalambokidis reminded the committee this data is the most volatile and we should expect corporate tax receipts to fall as profits continue to decrease.
Commissioner Frans indicated his agency will be presenting an updated budget projection in early May. There is still a lot of data to gather and models to run before MMB is confident in its ability to accurately predict Minnesota’s fiscal situation. It is widely thought the state will be facing a budget deficit, but Commissioner Frans was reluctant to speculate. Additionally, the federal government has not issued guidance to states on money appropriated under the CARES Act. Once this guidance is issued (likely this Friday), it will be easier to see which budget holes can be filled with federal dollars and which ones will require state solutions.
Both Frans and Kalambokidis acknowledged money for debt service will be pitted against other budget priorities, should they need to tap into the budget reserve. However, they said bonding is counter cyclical and is a proven economic stimulant.
When will the state “reopen”? Also on Monday, Governor Walz set a goal for when the state can restart the economy he shut down last month to guard against the spreading coronavirus pandemic: 5,000 tests per day. It’s an ambitious standard — one he likened to the quest to put a human on the moon — and it’s not clear how soon it can be achieved. Of note is the growing restlessness of some.
MSP and Delta updates:As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, global supply chains need support for shipping essential goods to businesses and communities. On March 16, Delta Cargo launched charter operations to provide the safe and reliable transportation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other critical items around the globe.
Delta Cargo can move freight in the belly space of their aircraft to 13 U.S. airports and 70 international airports. They evaluate all needs for cargo demand to transport goods and can fulfill ad hoc requests. Delta Cargo has a variety of flight options to either utilize Delta’s regularly scheduled passenger flights, utilize a cargo-only scheduled flight or charter an aircraft. Submit an inquiry with all the shipment details via email to DeltaCargoCharters@delta.com.
Highway 5 eastbound, remains closed as of Thursday, 4/9. View more information about how to navigate around the airport.
The Mississippi River is currently at 12 feet and continues to trend downward through April 20.
RESOURCES SBA resource partner, SCORE is committed to helping businesses through the unprecedented challenges from the coronavirus outbreak. Check out these blog posts and reach out to a mentor for more:
SCORE also has some helpful webinars coming up. Check them out here.
As always, you can find more information on our COVID-19 Resource page as well as links to partner organization resource pages and an for more information an archive of my previous Situation Reports.
Know that we continue to work with our partners to organize information and coordinate efforts to educate our community. Throughout all of this, please don’t forget the nonprofits in our community that serve our children, our families, and our unsheltered. The need is great and your individual support does make a difference.
B Kyle President/CEO Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce