It turns out there won't be a lapse in jobless benefits after all.
State officials nationwide, including at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), were expecting to see a one-week delay in the rollout of new and extended federal unemployment benefits authorized by the stimulus bill since it wasn't signed into law by President Donald Trump until Sunday, a day after some of the programs had already expired.
But they were notified by the Department of Labor on Monday afternoon that the jobless programs, including a supplemental $300 a week in unemployment benefits, will be made effective this week. That means the additional funds could start showing up in out-of-work Minnesotans' accounts by next week.
"We know that all of this can be confusing and the main question you probably have is: 'When will I get paid?'" the state wrote in an update posted to its unemployment insurance site. "We are doing everything we can to make sure all three programs are set up and ready to go by Jan. 3, 2021."
This also means that DEED won't have to enact, at least not initially, the additional 13 weeks in jobless benefits that were part of the pandemic relief package passed by state lawmakers this month, said Blake Chaffee, a deputy commissioner at DEED.
State lawmakers included those additional benefits in their bill as a stopgap in case the federal government did not reach an agreement in time to extend the jobless programs before they expired.
DEED had planned to roll out the state program this week to fill in a one-week gap for about 100,000 Minnesotans who had already exhausted the regular unemployment benefits until the federal aid kicked in, but that now appears to be unnecessary.
In addition, about 40,000 gig workers and other self-employed workers who have been receiving jobless payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which was extended by the federal stimulus bill, should not have any delay in benefits.
The $900 billion federal stimulus package approved by Congress last week extends a handful of unemployment programs that expired the day after Christmas and includes the additional $300 a week in benefits. It also provides stimulus checks of $600 and other relief for small businesses, hospitals and schools.
Trump sat on the bill for days, saying he wanted the direct payments to be $2,000 instead of $600. He finally signed the bill Sunday.
DEED is still waiting for more guidance from the Labor Department on the rollout of the federal programs, but they should not require special applications.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113