November 2, 2020
What to watch for on election night in Minnesota
From MinnPost, November 2, 2020

An unprecedented use of absentee and early voting means that for many Minnesotans, Election Day essentially started when they mailed their ballots or visited a voting center this year. For everyone else, polls open across Minnesota at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

But what about the results? Sometime after 8 p.m., the numbers will start to come in, first in trickles and then in gushes as both election-day votes and early votes already in hand across the state are counted. Whether there will be enough to know Tuesday night who won elections — be it the state’s 10 presidential electoral votes or the seats determining control of the state Legislature — is the biggest question of the 2020 campaign season.

Those results will determine a U.S. senator, eight members of Congress, a state Supreme Court justice, a handful of county, local government and school boards, and all 201 seats in the state Legislature. (To see everything MinnPost has written about Election 2020, check out our election coverage landing page.)

To make sense of it all, here’s a rundown of what MinnPost’s writers will be looking at as the vote counting proceeds on Tuesday.

Did Republicans turn out on Election Day?
Is there an early call on one of the (other) big swing states?
Did Omar boost the vote in CD5? How close is the Smith-Lewis race? Can Peterson hang on?
Have DFL legislative candidates made further inroads into the ’burbs?
Are Minneapolis voters ready to decouple council, mayoral elections?
Retail Rally Videos Available Now
A big thank you to the speakers listed below for joining us this for Retail Rally October 7! Here are their messages.
NRF chief economist says strong retail sales growth 'points to the resiliency of consumers'
From the National Retail Federation, November 2, 2020

Retail sales have largely recovered from the pandemic heading into the holiday season but the growing number of coronavirus cases remains a threat and additional federal stimulus could help keep the economy on track, National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said today.

“Strong growth in retail sales during the last few months points to the resiliency of consumers even in this disruptive pandemic environment,” Kleinhenz said. “Taking in all the evidence available, the U.S. economic recovery has progressed more quickly than generally expected.”

Kleinhenz agreed with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s recent call for additional federal stimulus, which the chairman said “will not go to waste” even if it is more than necessary.

“While there might be sufficient momentum and resiliency to propel the economy in the months ahead, additional fiscal policy support is critical to ensure that the recovery doesn’t stall,” Kleinhenz said.

Kleinhenz’s remarks came in the November issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review, which noted that retail sales have been up both month-over-month and year-over-year each month since June. Retail sales have completed a V-shaped recovery and are up 8.6 percent since January, according to data from Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights research project.

Household spending on retail goods has helped bring back overall consumer spending, which was down 16.1 percent year-over-year in April but only 1.9 percent as of August, according to the Commerce Department.
Eight pharmacies awarded pandemic/unrest funds to enhance patient access & medication security
The Minnesota Retailers Association (MnRA) and Minnesota Pharmacists Association (MPhA) announce the awarding of funds to eight pharmacies across Minnesota. Under the program--with funds generously provided by the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Minnesota--applications were solicited from pharmacies looking to enhance safe customer access or medication security within the context of the pandemic or recent unrest.

Projects funded include: two-way customer communication systems and upgraded cameras; enhanced windows, lighting and locks; and customer signage and support for curbside and delivery services for vulnerable customers.

Pharmacies receiving awards:

  •    Como Pharmacy, St. Paul
  •    Lloyd’s Pharmacy, St. Paul
  •    Mix Pharmacy, Oakdale
  •    Pelican Drug, Pelican Rapids
  •    Rolseth Drug, Forest Lake
  •    Seward Pharmacy, Minneapolis
  •    Thrifty White Pharmacy, Marshall
  •    Trumm Drug, Alexandria

“Pharmacies across the State have been heroic in reopening and remaining open and available to customers amid pandemic and unrest challenges,” says MnRA president Bruce Nustad. “We know Minnesotans depend on their community pharmacist, and are pleased these awards support continued, safe customer access.”

“The pandemic and unrest have reminded us that pharmacies and safe access to medications are essential in each of Minnesota’s communities,” says MPhA Executive Director Sarah Derr. “We are grateful to RALI MN for supporting this program, as well as to the team that reviewed applications for funds.”
Minnesota job vacancies decline to 111,753 in second quarter of 2020; vacancies drop 23.7% from second quarter of 2019 - but median wage offers reach record high
From the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, October 28, 2020

Minnesota employers reported 111,753 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2020, down 23.7% from second quarter 2019, according to Job Vacancy Survey results released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic (DEED). This survey took place during the peak period of pandemic-related job losses this past spring and is the first survey since 2016 to indicate that there are more unemployed workers than job vacancies.

Statewide, there were 2.4 unemployed persons for each vacancy. This is the highest number of job seekers per vacancy reported since 2012, when there were 2.6 unemployed workers for each opening. However, it is still significantly lower than the peak of 8.2 job seekers per vacancy reached in the midst of the Great Recession in 2009.

“Many Minnesotans are out of work right now and facing a challenging labor market, but at the same time, there are still employers who are hiring for good-paying jobs,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “At DEED, we are partnering with businesses across the state to highlight those jobs in a campaign called #GoodJobsNow. We want job seekers to know there is opportunity out there, despite the pandemic-fueled downturns.”

The 111,753 vacancies identified in the Job Vacancy Survey translate into a job vacancy rate of 4.0%, or 4.0 job openings per 100 jobs. This rate is down from 5.3% one year ago, and is the lowest posted since the second quarter of 2016, when there were 97,580 vacancies and a job vacancy rate of 3.6%. While job vacancies overall were down 23.7% over the year, part-time vacancies declined only 17.2%, whereas full-time vacancies dropped 27.7%.
Every option on table for deficit, Gov. Tim Walz says
From the Star Tribune, Jesse Van Berkel, October 28, 2020

Gov. Tim Walz said he is considering every option as he stares down Minnesota’s worst budget deficit in a decade.

Reorganizing state government. Budget cuts. Tax increases. Draining reserves. Legalizing recreational marijuana.

“The only way to do it is to put every possible scenario on the table,” Walz said. He is preparing for an estimated $2.3 billion gap in the current budget and potential $5 billion hole the following two years, according to new state estimates.

The outcome of the 2020 election could shape how state government solves the financial crunch. The DFL governor must partner with state legislators to come up with a solution, and the makeup of the entire House and Senate is on Tuesday’s ballot.

Republicans are aiming to hang on to their narrow majority in the Senate and flip the House, where Democrats hold significantly more seats. GOP legislators have been pushing Walz to act sooner to trim state government spending.

The governor froze hiring for nonessential positions in April, which has saved roughly $9 million in general fund spending so far. He also reduced his cabinet members’ pay by 10% and has eliminated some Corrections Department jobs. But lawmakers have repeatedly said additional cuts are needed.
The Senate's stimulus breakdown is the last thing retailers needed
From the Retail Dive, Daphne Howland, October 28, 2020

The U.S. Senate adjourned Monday evening, dashing hopes for the renewal of federal pandemic relief before the election and undermining a holiday shopping season already riddled with uncertainty.

Lawmakers return to the Senate Nov. 9 without plans to tackle a new stimulus package, despite evidence that the first $3 trillion round of aid to consumers and businesses, including the CARES Act, fueled demand and staved off further economic fallout from the pandemic. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a speech this month called the packages from March and April "by far the largest and most innovative fiscal response to an economic crisis since the Great Depression."

The sequel — the so-called HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives in May and languishing in the Senate since — contains another $3 trillion with similar provisions, including cash and rent relief to consumers and business support designed to protect jobs. The latter is important. GlobalData found that U.S. consumers are bargain-hunting lately due to pandemic-related job loss or pay cuts. And Wells Fargo economists Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery on Tuesday, recording a slippage in consumer confidence in October, said "the recent loss of momentum in the labor market prevents a more robust confidence surge."

In light of the precarious economy and ongoing disease outbreak, industry groups early in the month had urged a new agreement. "A second round of economic assistance could prove to be a meaningful tailwind to consumer retail — especially as the economy has slightly more visibility into a recovery today vs. 6 months ago when the first stimulus checks were released," Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow said in Oct. 15 commentary.
Minnesota's Retail Champions Announced!
This month the Minnesota Retailers Association was proud to recognize ten leading retailers and industry partners as Minnesota’s Retail Champions. Winners accepted their awards virtually during Retail Rally on Wednesday, October 7.

“We are proud to recognize ten innovative retailers, communities and partners that are leading the way in connecting with consumers and today’s trends following a vigorous process to identify Minnesota’s Retail Champions,” says Bruce Nustad, Minnesota Retailers Association president. “The retail industry has a deep impact on Minnesota communities, and these award recipients are truly representative of what’s great about retail across the state, how the industry is changing, and what it takes to attract customers today.”
Watch the winner's video below!
Online Resource For Retailers Amid COVID-19
A strong retail community is important during all seasons, but especially in times of uncertainty such as the conditions surrounding COVID-19. MnRA has a resource page for retailers on our website relation to COVID-19. 

Visit the page at https://www.mnretail.org/covid-19 for frequent state, local and federal updates as well as links to resources.