ETA News Release: [05/06/2009]
Contact Name: Jennifer Kaplan
Phone Number: (202) 693-5052
Release Number: 09-0499-CHI
U.S. Labor Department announces release of more than $130 million
in unemployment insurance modernization incentive funds to Minnesota
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Labor today certified for release $130,063,620 in unemployment insurance (UI) modernization incentive funds to the state of Minnesota. Minnesota qualified for the funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) by allowing workers to use their more recent earnings to qualify for benefits. Minnesota's approved application will be posted at the department's Employment and Training Administration Web site at http://www.dol.gov/recovery/.
"Minnesota has made important updates to its UI program to better meet the needs of the 21st century workforce," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Minnesota is helping unemployed workers who have entered the workforce recently, work part time or have become unemployed because of compelling family reasons eligibility provisions of particular importance to women."
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development can use the funds to pay unemployment benefits or, if appropriated by the legislature, for administering its unemployment insurance program or delivering employment services.
State and federal officials had the following comments about this announcement:
"During this difficult economic time, our state is committed to helping people get back to work," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "Minnesota will utilize these funds to assist unemployed workers while they seek training and future employment."
"As I've traveled across the state, I've met many Minnesotans who have worked hard and played by the rules, but have been hurt by this economic downturn," said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. "These funds will ensure that these Minnesotans have a safety net during difficult times that helps them get back to work."
"We are seeing layoffs across northeast Minnesota. In Kanabec County, the unemployment rate is 17.3 percent," said U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, who represents Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. "Steelworkers who are losing their jobs on the Iron Range did not cause this economic downturn. Neither did the loggers, sales clerks, car dealership employees and thousands of other workers across the state. They deserve a helping during tough times."
"This unemployment insurance money is a critical investment in Minnesota families who have been hurt by the economy," said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, who represents Minnesota's 4th Congressional District. "President Obama deserves tremendous credit for acting so quickly to deliver this vital assistance."
"The approval of Minnesota's application will help out-of-work Minnesotans across our state," said U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who represents Minnesota's 1st Congressional District. "It is my hope that the state will quickly reach out to those who are now eligible for these benefits so families can begin spending these dollars in our communities on the food and other items they need."
"The release of $130 million in unemployment insurance funds for Minnesota will keep many families afloat during these tough times. The downturn in the economy has taken its toll in the 5th Congressional District with an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent in Minneapolis and 7.5 percent in Hennepin County. This is why I advocated for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which made the money available. These funds give my residents a helping hand and our economy a needed boost while we work to fix the fundamental problems with our economy," said U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
The Recovery Act made a total of $7 billion available in UI modernization incentive payments to states that include certain eligibility provisions in their UI programs. Each state can qualify for a share of those funds by showing that its law includes those provisions. To date, in addition to Minnesota, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Dakota have been certified by the Labor Department to receive a share of the funds.