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State asks hordes of newly jobless to go by numbers

  • Article by: DEE DePASS
  • Star Tribune
  • July 1, 2011 - 10:08 PM

The roughly 24,000 state workers cut off from their jobs after Friday's government shutdown are being asked to apply for unemployment benefits on a staggered basis, state official said.

About 2,500 Minnesotans applied for unemployment Friday, the first day of the state government shutdown, said Keith Goodwin, acting director of the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Department. To compare, only 3,600 applications were filed for all of last week or about 720 applications per weekday.

Going forward, Goodwin's office is asking applicants to follow a few simple rules that should help spread out applications over the five-day period beginning Monday.

The measured approach ensures that unemployment intake workers don't get overwhelmed, said Monte Hanson, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Applying late in the week will not affect the date in which people receive their first unemployment insurance payment, Hanson said. Payments related to the shutdown begin July 20.

DEED has 696 employees designated as "essential employees" during the shutdown. And most of them will be handling questions and applications, said Hanson who was laid off Friday along with 23,000 to 25,000 other state workers.

They join the 196,000 Minnesotans who are currently unemployed.

Meanwhile about 37 of the state's 49 WorkForce Centers will be closed during the shutdown. The remaining 12 will be partially open because they are staffed by county employees. But many of these centers will only handle existing clients and will not be open to the general public.

The computers in all WorkForce Center "Resource Rooms" will be shut down, meaning the public will not have access to the state's jobs listing and other computerized services.

"People should call first" before making the trip to any of the WorkForce Centers as some services will be limited, said Ramsey County spokesman Art Coulson.

The 12 centers with partial service include: North St. Paul, Woodbury, Cottage Grove, the Anoka County center in Blaine, Forest Lake, Duluth, Hibbing, Virginia, Cloquet, International Falls, New Ulm and Grand Rapids.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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