MN Phases Out Extended Unemployment Benefits

A federal program that gave up to 13 weeks of extended benefits to long-term unemployed individuals is being phased out in Minnesota and nine other states.

An extended unemployment benefits program will be phased out in Minnesota because the state's average unemployment rate during the past three months fell below 6.5 percent, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced last week.

The program, called Federal-State Extended Benefits, gave up to 13 weeks of extended benefits to eligible unemployed individuals. It will be phased out by January 14.

Federal law requires that a state's extended benefit program end when the state's three-month average unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent. Minnesota dropped below the threshold due in large part to November's jobless rate, which fell half a percentage point to 5.9 percent-the lowest unemployment rate in the state since October 2008.

The extended benefits will be phased out in nine other states this month as well. DEED is mailing letters to about 7,000 applicants in Minnesota who may be affected by the discontinuation of the program.

Unemployed Minnesotans still may be eligible for up to 73 weeks of unemployment benefits, including 26 weeks of regular state-funded benefits and 47 weeks of benefits under the federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, according to DEED.