UPDATE: MN Youth Unemployment Campaign

Unemployment Insurance for All MN Workers Town Hall (Highlights)

UPDATE (August 19, 2021):

“As of early March 2021, nearly $30 million in pandemic unemployment assistance has been paid out to secondary students and more than $70 million has been made available to be claimed

Are you or do you know a Minnesota high school student who lost a job because of COVID-19?

For generations, high school students have played a key role as employees supporting the local economy, their families, and themselves. We believe those hard working students deserve unemployment benefits like their fellow employees and high school students in the rest of the country.

A group of high school students and Youthprise, supported by youth organizations and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, decided to sue the state of Minnesota for high school students who lost wages after January 27, 2020, due to the pandemic. CLICK HERE to learn more. And on December 1, 2020, we received an official ruling in our favor!


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On Thursday, March 17, 2021 Youthprise, Bridgemakers (aka MN Young Champions) and AARP MN joined together and held a town hall with the legislators who are championing changes to the 1939 law that prohibits secondary school students from receiving UI benefits – forcing them to go without wages to pay for basic needs like rent, food, and transportation.

Furthermore, Minnesota is the ONLY state in the nation that reduces or eliminates UI benefits for some laid off workers who either receive, have applied for, or intend to apply for Social Security (SS) benefits.

During the event, we were able to have a hopeful discussion about the impact on Minnesotans both young and old. Below we've detailed some of the major takeaways for those who were unable to attend:

  • Roger C., an older worker from Rochester, shared his story about having to leave his job in a big box store because COVID, shared his story.  He was astounded to learn that he didn’t qualify for UI simply because his retirement money comes from social security.
  • Spencer R., a high schooler, shared what it was like working at Perkins as a cook when the pandemic first hit.  Because he didn’t have UI eligibility, he had to sell some of his clothes and do chores around the neighborhood just to try to make a little money to survive.  Once he received UI benefits, he was able to pay past due rent, his car insurance and tabs, and phone bill.  He talked about the stress of being in debt and not knowing where your next check is going to come from.  He just wishes no one ever has to go through this again.
  • Rep. Noor talked about the need to address these issues for all workers who have been denied equitable access to UI benefits.
    • He emphasized these bills need to be passed as soon as possible and urged people to call and email their legislators encouraging them to do so.
  • Sen. Rarick said, “When I see something I just believe is right, I want to carry the bill and stand up for it.”
    • He said the stories shared at the town hall help us understand this is just the right thing to do.  He has a hard time understanding why these laws were ever put in place this way.  Employers are already paying in for these workers, but we deny them the benefits—why?
    • He said people should encourage DEED to provide the fiscal details of the bills to the Legislature as quickly as possible so the Legislature can assess their impact.
    • He also encouraged people to reach out to NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and help them understand that businesses already pay into the UI system for these workers, so they should also receive the benefits.

Watch the full conversation below:

As the conversation surrounding high school eligibility continues, we encourage you to apply. As of now, nearly $30M in pandemic unemployment assistance has been paid out to secondary students! If you believe you qualify for PUA, use the link below and apply today.

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