A $300 weekly boost in unemployment aid has now expired in Minnesota.
Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said Thursday that the state has exhausted the six weeks in federal help that was approved earlier.
He said an attempt to get an extension is unlikely to be successful.
“We believe it’s done,” Grove told reporters on a conference call to announce monthly unemployment statistics.
“We wish there was more. We got on it as quickly as we could. We will of course monitor for more,” he said. “But for now it looks like we’ve capped at that six-week mark.”
Grove said the last payout was made recently. Minnesota didn’t get approval for the program until late August, but it delivered the assistance retroactively to those who qualified. Minnesotans eligible for the benefit should see the last payments come in this week.
When the Lost Wages Assistance program was announced, officials expected the help to be temporary because it draws from the same federal emergency account used to respond to natural disasters, which are being relied on now to respond to hurricanes and wildfires.
The assistance replaced a more-generous benefit of $600 dollars a week that went away in July. Both programs were intended to deal with a gusher of unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate has moved down slightly but the bounce back has slowed and is uneven across industries.
DEED reports that the seasonally adjusted rate for August was 7.4 percent. That’s below the 7.6 percent mark the month before and a full point better than the national rate.
There were 231,599 people listed as unemployed out of a labor force of 3,113,112.
The unemployment rate in Minnesota peaked at an all-time monthly high of 9.9 percent in May and has gradually fallen since. Before the pandemic, Minnesota’s rate was consistently in the 3 percent range.
In August, Grove said there was a growth in government work due to hiring related to the census. Leisure and service professions also ticked up, but not at a rate that will quickly replace lost jobs in the hospitality sector during the pandemic.
“It was good growth across every super sector after a tough spring and summer. But of course over the year, every super sector has lost jobs,” Grove said. “And that’s true both in Minnesota and in the country.”
Demographic disparities also persist. More than 16 percent of Black Minnesotans and about 10 percent of Hispanic or Latino Minnesotans are counted as unemployed. That compares with about 7 percent for white Minnesotans, he said.