Governor Walz on Minnesota’s Continued Economic Expansion, Sixth Straight Month of Job Growth
ST. PAUL, MN (STL.News) Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan reacted today to Minnesota reaching its sixth straight month of job growth and its lowest unemployment rate since 1999, at 2.5%. Minnesota gained 11,500 jobs, up 0.4% in the last month, according to numbers released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Minnesota’s labor force participation rate rose from 67.9% to 68.1% and the unemployment rate ticked down two-tenths of a point to 2.5% in March 2022 from 2.7% in February 2022, a tie with its lowest level ever recorded, in February 1999.
“Thanks to hardworking people across the state, we are moving Minnesota forward,” said Governor Walz. “For the sixth straight month, we have both added jobs and reached historically low levels of unemployment—outpacing states across the nation. Now, it’s time to pass a budget that builds on that success and invests in the people who are making our economy strong. We have an opportunity to lower costs for working families, drive job growth, and continue to expand our economy.”
“Our students, businesses, and workers in Minnesota are more resilient than anywhere else in the country—and our strong economic position today is thanks to them,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “Right now, with our growing economy and historic surplus, we have an opportunity to invest in those Minnesotans and help ensure their financial stability and economic success for generations to come.”
In addition to Minnesota’s low unemployment rate, the state has a historic surplus and is in a strong economic position to make record investments toward continued economic growth and put money into the hands of Minnesotans. Minnesota Management and Budget released an economic forecast in February showing that Minnesota’s state budget surplus is projected to be a historic $9.25 billion for fiscal year 2022-23.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s proposed investments to expand economic opportunity in the Walz-Flanagan Budget to Move Minnesota Forward include:
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan’s revised budget proposes distributing Walz Checks of up to $1,000 directly to Minnesotans. Single tax filers would receive a payment of $500 while a married couple would receive a payment of $1,000. More than 2.7 million Minnesota households would receive a Walz Check under this proposal.
Expand Economic Growth
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also propose investing $73 million to respond to the inflationary pressures faced by the retirees on Minnesota public pension plans and $20 million in the Main Street Economic Revitalization program to continue providing funding to help communities rebuild and recover. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor also recommend an additional investment in the Small Business Partnership grants to allow nonprofits to provide business development services to even more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the state.
Increase Educational Opportunities
The Walz-Flanagan budget recommends $10 million annually to expand rigorous coursework and career and technical education for historically underserved students and students in Greater Minnesota. It also recommends a $15 million investment in the Tech Youth Training program – to prepare the future of our workforce, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students and youth to meet the demands of Minnesota’s growing tech industry and leave the program with connections to employer ready to hire into the highest-paying career tracks in the state.
Advance Workforce Development
The Walz-Flanagan budget invests in effective, equity-centered workforce development strategies to increase prosperity and economic vitality for Minnesotans statewide, especially in industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor propose a $1 billion investment to provide payments to frontline workers and a $115 million investment to retain those who provide life-sustaining care for people with disabilities, older adults, people with behavioral health needs, and people experiencing homelessness. They also propose critical investments to revitalize the health care workforce, expand dual-training programs for high-need career areas like manufacturing, agriculture, health care, and information technology, and advance technology re-skilling training. The Walz-Flanagan budget invests in the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State systems to help maintain the state’s reputation as a national leader in research and innovation by addressing the rising cost of attendance to make higher education more attainable. Additionally, the budget invests $15 million in one-time funding to modernize the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s workforce system to best serve Minnesota jobseekers with upgraded digital tools that bring the resources Minnesotans can get in-person, virtually.
Expand Access to Child Care and Pre-K
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan propose expanding public pre-K seats through a mixed delivery model requiring a combination of school-based programs, Head Start, child care centers and family child care programs. In total, this expansion could serve more than 23,000 eligible young learners and help to ensure ease of navigation and choices for families, as schools and communities work together to promote high-quality, cohesive early learning systems. The Walz-Flanagan budget also expands investment in early learning scholarships and improves child care access for Minnesota families by increasing child care assistance payment rates to the federal standard and ensuring stable ongoing increases tied to recent market rates. The budget includes funding to stabilize child care providers and programs experiencing extreme financial hardships as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget will also improve access to child care for Minnesota families by allowing the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program to provide help paying for child care to all eligible families and children and do away with waiting lists.
Invest in Paid Family and Medical Leave
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan propose a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program to ensure Minnesotans do not have to make the unfair choice between a paycheck and taking time off work to care for a new baby or a family member with a serious illness. The creation of this program is necessary to support businesses, ensure more equitable economic opportunities for Minnesotans, retain more women in the labor force, and positively impact the lives of children. The Walz-Flanagan budget also supports working families with Earned Sick and Safe Time. The proposal would ensure workers can accrue up to 48 hours per year for when they need to recover from an illness, go to a medical appointment, care for a child during a school closure, or get care and assistance due to domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault.
Cut Taxes for Families and Small Businesses
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan propose reducing taxes for families and small businesses to help level the playing field for the middle class and allow workers to keep more of their income. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s budget makes a one-time investment of $2.73 billion to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which would prevent pandemic-related tax increases for businesses. To provide tax cuts for middle class families with child care costs, the budget recognizes the challenges of the current environment by increasing the income threshold and maximum credit amount for Minnesota’s Dependent Care Credit, providing tax cuts to more Minnesota taxpayers. This proposal would also update Minnesota’s Newborn Credit to be available for all taxpayers regardless of marital status. Additionally, the budget proposes to increase eligibility for Minnesota’s K-12 Education Credit to ensure families and students are able to afford the supplies necessary to get a world-class Minnesota education.