Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus
Gov. Tim Walz, government officials and Minnesota teens on Monday urged high schoolers to apply for unemployment benefits before the Dec. 25 deadline if their jobs were affected by the pandemic.
High schoolers who were laid off or had their hours cut due to the pandemic were initially deemed ineligible for pandemic unemployment assistance because of a state law passed in 1939. The nonprofit Youthprise sued, and a court determined in December that students should be eligible for benefits.
“All of these young people who are working are paying taxes and being a part of the system, too, so this is the right thing to do,” Walz said.
The state has received roughly 10,000 applications from high schoolers and has sent benefits to some already, said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove.
Rahma Farah, 17, said she started working at age 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings. She and her mom both lost their jobs this year because of the pandemic, and Farah wasn’t able to receive unemployment benefits, so she used some of her college savings to cover her family’s expenses.
“Those first few months were extremely challenging for my family, and if I were allowed benefits at the time, it would have taken an immense amount of stress off my shoulders,” Farah said.
Walz, Grove and the students called for the repeal of the 1939 law that bars students from receiving unemployment benefits.
“That law needs to be changed — it’s outdated,” Grove said. “If you’re old enough to work, you’re old enough to get the benefits that you should get when you can’t work.”
High school students can learn more and apply for benefits at http://www.uimn.org/.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.