The Potluck

Minnesota waiting for answers from feds on unemployment boost

By: - August 19, 2020 12:37 pm

Photo illustration by Getty Images

Minnesota officials are preparing to apply for federal assistance to help jobless people get a bump in unemployment.

After talks broke down between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, President Trump signed orders earlier this month aiming to extend the federal unemployment boost that ended with July.

His order calls for an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits from a fund managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency will initially dole out enough to cover three weeks.

Minnesota officials are preparing an application for federal assistance, but the state has questions about implementation.  “FEMA has yet to offer sufficient guidance,” according to Rita Beatty, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, which manages the state’s unemployment program.

DEED sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Labor and FEMA confirming its intent to apply, seeking answers to questions on program administration.

“Minnesota cannot move forward to apply without this information,” Beatty said. “We hope to receive a response from FEMA and USDOL very soon.”

Unemployed residents had been getting $600 per week in federal unemployment – in addition to their state payments — before it expired at the end of July. and Congress has not been able to come up with an agreement to extend the program. FEMA officials have said they expect the payments to arrive by the end of August.

But Minnesota’s roughly 267,680 unemployed people, or 8.5% of the labor force, may have to wait longer for answers.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.