MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Help could be on the way for thousands of unemployed Minnesotans struggling to make ends meet, as Gov. Tim Walz announced an extra $300 in new weekly unemployment benefits.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Walz and Department of Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove talked about the additional, temporary boost in weekly unemployment checks is in the works.

The move will up some of the state’s benefits to $300 a week through September, and it will be back dated to when the extra $600 a week in federal assistance ended last month. To qualify, you have to be unemployed due to COVID-19, with weekly unemployment benefits of at least $100. It is expected the fund has enough money to pay the benefits through mid-September.

When the pandemic shut down Minnesota’s economy in March, Tim Grout was out of a job. Without business, there’s no need for catering.

“Obviously business has not come back to downtown,” Grout said. “Businesses aren’t back and people not being called back to work so I’ve been left in limbo, while my unemployment has gone out the window as well.”

He got by thanks to the extra $600 in weekly unemployment insurance, but that federal stimulus money ended July 25.

Without a new Congressional stimulus package, FEMA will tap $20 billion of disaster relief funds, to give those like Grout an extra $300 each week. Minnesota’s in line for its portion of the Lost Wages Assistance program.

Grout says it will surely help. But what he really wants is the job he loves back.

“I want to get back to work, I want to be useful there, and that’s the hardest part,” he said.

He can only hope the money outlasts a pandemic.

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