In November 2007, 45,000 Minnesotans were collecting unemployment benefits as they sought new jobs. In November 2008, the number is 77,000. One of them is Doug Seim, 41, of Shakopee.
"My company went out of business May 31st of this year."
Doug Seim worked for now-defunct, Edina-based Champion Air. He has been collecting unemployment benefits since July. It is a major drop in income. "Everything helps, however, it is about $450 less per week than what I was used to getting."
Seim's weekly benefit is approximately the state average, according to Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development Dan McElroy. "Our average payment is about 330 or 340 dollars a week. Our averages are higher than states around us. Our max is higher than almost any other state in the union except for Massachusetts."
Click here to see how Minnesota stacks up with other states benefits
Massachusetts pays benefits up to $900 per week. By comparison, Wisconsin's maximum benefit is just $355 per week. Minnesota's maximum? $566 per week. Why is Minnesota able to offer more help? McElroy says it is because Minnesota taxes its employers more than most other states. "It's important to know that 100% of the cost of unemployment insurance is paid by employers by a tax that they pay on the first $26,000 of wages paid to employees."
There are 47 Workforce Centers in the state of Minnesota. They offer free workshops, internet access and job search assistance. It is not necessary to visit one of the centers in order to quality for unemployment benefits. Doug Seim has never set foot in a center.
"I've done everything on line (from home). I have not had to go into an office, which is really convenient.
Doug simply visits the state's employment website. http://www.uimn.org/ui/22c/index.html.
He can enter his social security number and other information and apply for benefits. He returns to the website each week to requalify for that week's benefits. He says his benefits should last until January or so. State officials are waiting for word from Washington, D.C. that may extend his and others eligibility by several weeks. Until then, he is beating the internet bushes for interest in his skills. He knows it is a daunting task.
"Since May 31st, I've had four interviews so, it's pretty frustrating."
(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)