Minnesotans worry as weekly $600 unemployment benefit runs out

For the last few months, the federal government has been giving people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits. Now, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are on the edge of a financial cliff as those extra benefits run out.

“We know the end the benefit is going to be significant for Minnesotans who are on unemployment insurance trying to make ends meet across the state,” said Blake Chafee, Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The federal pandemic unemployment compensation program ended last week, costing roughly 450,000 Minnesotans between $200-300 million a week.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would extend the extra $600 through the end of January, while the U.S. Senate wants to lower that payment to $200 a week until states can put a program in place that would pay the unemployed 70 percent of their income before they lost their job.

"We're going to continue to watch the conversation, see what passes and hopefully we'll have the ability to quickly stand up, whatever those policy decisions are," Chafee said.

HousingLink helps low and moderate income families find affordable housing. The nonprofit surveyed renters in the middle of June, and 26% said they would not be able to pay their rent when the federal unemployment benefits run out.

"We are very concerned if there is not some type of extension of this program," said Dan Hylton with HousingLink. “I think families are going to be very happy with whatever they can get, but I think it was pretty clear in the survey we did that if there is not some type of extension that people are going to be in a lot of trouble."

State officials say Minnesotans worried about making ends meet can reach out to their city and county and go to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's website for help with everything from finding a job to putting food on the table. 

"We would continue to encourage Minnesotans to look at other resources that might be available to help support them and their families through this tough time."


Finding work:

  • CareerForce connects people who need work with the employers who need them now. 
  • DEED staff and workforce development partners throughout the state offer services including: identification of transferable skills for in-demand careers; counselor-approved training and education for Minnesotans eligible for Dislocated Worker services; assistance with job search strategy, resume writing, interview preparation and more. 

Basic needs:

  • Minnesotans who are concerned about making ends meet are encouraged to learn more about food support, economic assistance, child care, health care and other programs they may be eligible for on the DHS website: https://mn.gov/dhs/
  • A slate of government and community resources are listed here:  https://uimn.org/gethelp/