ST. PAUL (AP) -- There may be a silver lining in the dark cloud of unemployment that has hovered over Minnesota since the economy began slowing early last year, according to the state Department of Trade and Economic Development.
The department released a report Friday indicating that many of the laid-off workers are interested in starting their own businesses and some have done so.
The department examined data from 5,420 workers who participated in the state's Dislocated Worker Program in 2001. Of those workers, 631 (nearly 12 percent) said they were interested in starting businesses.
Follow-up surveys with 158 of those workers who responded showed that 11 percent (18 workers) had started up and were running their own businesses, another 18 percent (28 workers) were in the process of starting a business and nearly 40 percent (63 workers) were still thinking about starting their own companies.
"The results clearly show that some laid-off workers are starting new businesses, and that many others remained either interested or actively involved in starting a business," the report said.
Commissioner Rebecca Yanisch said if those percentages hold true for the entire 35,000 Minnesota workers who lost their jobs last year, it could help the state get on track to economic recovery.
The state estimated that if the business startup figures hold true for the entire population of workers involved in mass layoffs last year, Minnesota gained more than 400 new businesses started by unemployed workers, or more than 3 percent of all business startups.
"Dislocated workers want to get back on their feet as soon as they can, and many are eager to try their hand at building their own businesses," Yanisch said. "Our challenge now is to find ways to help them do that."
The report suggests that policy-makers can encourage entrepreneurship by providing reliable information and resources to support entrepreneurs, offering training for developing a successful business and providing financial and technical help.
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