MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — To get through the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are relying on unemployment benefits, plus an extra $600 from the federal government. But that extra boost will end this weekend, because congress hasn’t come up with a plan to extend it.
WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh spoke with Minnesotans who have or will dip into savings, to get to the other side.
Ruth Micheud has been trying to claim unemployment insurance benefits for nearly three months after being furloughed in May.
She hasn’t received a clear rejection or approval, and money is starting to get tight.
“I am using my savings to pay for my expenses, but at some point they are getting down and down,” Micheud said.
While a small percentage of people may be in Ruth’s situation, some people receiving unemployment benefits will soon be forced off a financial cliff.
The $600 federal top-off payment runs out this weekend.
“It’s going to put me in a bind,” Jake Gray said.
That federal check is about 75% of Gray’s weekly income right now.
“The extra $600 is huge for me. I was a student worker, a clerk, so hourly pay wasn’t a lot,” Gray said.
“Honestly we’re just concerned about a lot of Minnesotans heading into poverty,” said Steve Grove, Commissioner of Employment and Economic Growth. “We have hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans on unemployment insurance benefits when this extra benefit goes away their weekly paycheck is going to change substantially.”
Since the crisis hit, Minnesotans have received around $5.5 billion in unemployment insurance benefits — more than half was from the weekly federal top-off.
“I’m trying to get creative with how that’s going to work,” Rebecca Gebhart said.
Roughly 60% of her unemployment is coming from those federal checks. Like many, she’s wondering how she’s going to make up for the loss.
“It would’ve been nice to have a little bit more time to prepare for my income to plummet so much,” Gebhart said.
Senate Republicans plan to introduce their relief plan on Monday, but there could still be weeks of negotiations.