MN Youth Unemployment Information

(Last updated: February 12, 2021)

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!


After the pandemic hit last spring, a large share of Minnesota’s estimated 50,000 working high school students lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. Other jobless Minnesotans soon gained access to expanded state or new federal pandemic unemployment benefits. The State of Minnesota denied unemployed students access to either source of benefits, citing a state law first passed in 1939. The youth-led group Bridgemakers decided to fight to reverse the State's decision. With the support of Youthprise and other adult allies, the students of Bridgemakers’ Minnesota Young Champions project shared their stories with state leaders and the media, developed legislation with bipartisan support, led a social media campaign, hosted events to raise awarwness and eventually supported a lawsuit to overturn the State’s decision.  On December 1st 2020, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the State’s decision to deny students pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), making up to $28 million available to eligible jobless students. Although a huge win, it was only a temporary pandemic-related solution. Now with the support of key state leaders, youth leaders are now working to permanently repeal the state’s ban on student access to state unemployment benefits in the current 2021 Legislative Session.


1. REFERENCE THE CHART below to determine what day you are allowed to apply for Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

2. Using the "APPLY NOW" button below fill out your application for Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Benefits. CLICK HERE FOR STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONSPlease note: If you have already applied, there is no need to reapply because the benefits are retroactive!

3. SPREAD THE WORD! Share this link with your friends and family, and make sure high school students who lost a job due to the pandemic know their rights and apply today! Preserve your rights to pandemic unemployment!

FAQs (provided by MN Young Champions):

  • Q: If I’ve already applied for unemployment, do I need to apply again? A: No! Keep checking your email and logging into your account regularly for updates. There may be a questionnaire you need to complete to provide more information to DEED before you receive your benefits. 
  • Q: How do I get benefits for previous months that I missed out on? A: A federal law was passed that may impact your ability to get benefits retroactively, but individual instructions will be sent to you if you are eligible for benefits from the past. 
  • Q: If I am on DACA, am I eligible for benefits? A: Yes! If you are authorized to work in the United States, you are eligible for benefits.
  • Q: If my hours were reduced before I was laid off, how do I include that in the application? A: The application process included a detailed questionnaire where you will be able to share any related information. 
  • Q: If I was able to work but it didn't feel safe for myself or my family, would I still be eligible for unemployment? A: You may still be eligible! There is a place in the application to explain COVID related medical concerns or caregiving responsibilities. 
  • Q: Do I need to claim benefits on my taxes? A: Yes. Benefits are taxable. You can choose to have taxes withheld otherwise you'll have to do it for yourself.
  • Q: If I received benefits but had to pay them back, how do I get that money refunded? A: You will receive individual instructions in order to receive your refund. 
  • Q: If I was already denied after applying, how do I go back and change this in the system? A: Eligibility will be redetermined on a case by case basis, so check your email and the unemployment website for individual instructions.
  • Q: When can I expect payments? A: It will be different for all students. Don't be surprised if others are paid before or after you. 
  • Q: How do I receive money? A: Either through direct deposit or DEED will send a prepaid debit card.
  • Q: If my summer job fell through, do I qualify? A: The application gives the chance to explain your specific situation. When in doubt, apply. 
  • Q: What documentation do I need? A: The application process is the same for everyone, and you will have the chance to provide specific details about your situation. 
  • Q: Does PUA income count against or for other public benefit programs (ex: SNAP)? A: Yes it can. You need to check with the specific agency of the other program you are receiving aid from to fully understand how these interact.
  • Q: Are students supposed to appeal if they were denied? A: If you were denied because you were in secondary school, your application is now being reviewed. It is not necessary to appeal on this specific issue because they have all this data and are going back. 
  • Q: What do I do if I’m locked out of my account? A: Give DEED a call and they will help you reset your password.