Unemployment Insurance benefits available to those impacted by COVID-19

Ryan Juntti
Updated: March 24, 2020 11:56 PM

In this time of crisis, many across the Northland are looking for financial help. In Minnesota, there have been over 149,000 unemployment applications.


According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's (DEED) website, anyone who has temporarily or permanently lost their job, or had their hours reduced because of COVID-19 is eligible to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. The same is true in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's website.

The Unemployment Insurance program is designed primarily for laid off workers who worked for an employer.

In Minnesota, it is important to note there is no assistance for self-employed workers and independent contractors who haven't previously elected coverage. Those who are self-employed in Wisconsin are also not eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

In Minnesota, unemployment insurance pays approximately half what a worker’s average weekly wage was over the last year, to a maximum of $740 per week. Typically, benefits last for 26 weeks if an individual is fully unemployed for each week. 

In Wisconsin, the unemployment insurance pay is determined with a Weekly Benefit Rate Calculator.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove encourages those looking to apply to ask the help of others who have done so in the past.

"With 85 percent of the applications coming in being new users to the program, we're really encouraging people to get help from friends, and from family to walk through that process online where it's helpful and to ensure you submit your application correctly," Grove said.

DEED says generally if you are taking other forms of leave payment, you are not eligible for unemployment insurance.

DEED says they will try to process applications as soon as possible, but that submitting online is the most efficient way. DEED also says they want to make sure their phone lines are reserved for those "who are digitally disconnected, or who need language support."

To apply for unemployment insurance benefits in Minnesota, click here.

To apply for unemployment insurance benefits in Wisconsin, click here.


Ryan Juntti

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