DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment,

expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development.

Unemployment questions answered

The COVID-19 crisis has required unprecedented action by state government to ensure the safety of

Minnesotans: temporary closure of all restaurants, bars, and other non-essential public businesses, which

will affect hundreds of thousands of workers who may now find themselves temporarily unemployed.

There is also a blog for regular updates.

The Governor signed Executive Order 20-05 to ensure Minnesotans thus affected have access to

unemployment benefits, and to ensure that businesses aren’t required to pay into the system to cover these

additional costs.

Anyone who is applying for UI and has access to the Internet are urged to apply online at the

website, uimn.org. The call centers are reserved for Minnesotans who are digitally disconnected, or who

need language support.

Following are some of the most frequent questions DEED is getting about the program.

Q: Who is eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits?

A: The core principle of unemployment insurance is that you are eligible if you are disconnected from

your job by no fault of your own. Executive Order 20-05 extends that definition in the following ways.

You are eligible if:

 You have temporarily or permanently lost your job or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19.

 A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered you to avoid contact with

others due to COVID-19.

 You have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

 You have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either

classes are canceled or your ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that you made reasonable

effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from your employer

and no reasonable accommodation was available.

Q: How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance?

A: If you have temporarily or permanently lost your job or had your hours reduced because of COVID-

19, you should apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Apply online at uimn.org. Applying online is

important to provide for the most efficient processing during this unprecedented situation. Applying

online also saves phone lines for those who speak a language other than English or don’t have internet

access.

Q: Should I take paid leave/sick leave due to this crisis, or take unemployment

insurance?

A: Generally you should exhaust other forms of leave as they will pay you more than UI, but that is up to

every individual worker. Unemployment benefits are designed to provide about 50 percenet of your

regular wages and paid leave or sick leave typically provide more income if they are available. 

Q: How much in benefits am I eligible for?

A: Unemployment insurance pays approximately half what a worker’s average weekly wage was over the

last year, to a maximum of $740 per week. Typically, benefits last for 26 weeks if an individual is fully

unemployed for each week 

Q: I was laid off today, how soon will I start to receive benefits?

A: We will process your application as quickly as possible. Submitting your application online is the

most efficient way for us to process your application. The uimn.org website is able to accept applications

Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. We are working to add Sunday hours.  

Q: I am a freelancer or self-employed, do I qualify for UI benefits?

A: The UI program is designed primarily for laid off workers who worked for an employer. Most

Minnesota workers are “covered” by the UI program. Some self-employed individuals and independent

contractors have previously elected to be covered by the UI program and they qualify for UI benefits.

There is no assistance from the UI program for self-employed workers and independent contractors who

have not previously elected coverage. 

Q: Is there anything DEED can do to help my business avoid layoffs?

A: If employers meet eligibility requirements, you may be able to enroll in the Shared Work Program.

This program offers an alternative to layoffs in which employees work reduced hours during a temporary

slowdown. Employees are paid unemployment benefits to offset part of their reduced wages. Employers

with questions about the Shared Work Program should contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Q: If I’m taking paid or sick leave during this time, am I eligible for UI?

A: Generally, if you are taking other forms of leave payment, you are not eligible for UI.

Q: How much money does Minnesota have in its UI Trust Fund?

A: Minnesota’s UI trust fund currently has a healthy amount of funding in it. We know we’re facing a

surge in applications and will model this carefully. The federal government is currently considering

providing additional emergency funds to all states. When states trust fund run dry, they can apply for 0%

interest loans from the federal government.

Have more questions about whether you qualify for Unemployment Insurance, how to apply and

what the process is? Please visit the UI Need to Know page.

Emergency small business loans

The Small Business Emergency Loan Program makes available $30 million from special revenue

funds for DEED’s lender network to make loans of between $2,500 and $35,000 for qualifying small

businesses.

The loans will be 50 percent forgivable, and offered at a 0 percent interest rate. If other financing

becomes available to small businesses that received an emergency loan, such as federal funding, the

emergency loan must be repaid.

These emergency loans will be made by an existing network of lenders DEED works with across the

state. Depending on the size of the loans offered to businesses, DEED estimates this emergency loan

program will provide needed resources to between 1,200 and 5,000 businesses. DEED expects loan

applications will available later this week through our lender network. Minnesota small businesses

should send questions about this emergency loan program to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The loan program was created under the Small Business Assistance Executive Order 20-15

announced by Governor Tim Walz on March 23. The loan program is intended to help businesses

temporarily closed under Executive Order 20-04, later clarified by Executive Order 20-08, which stopped

onsite customer dining at restaurants and bars and closed an extensive list of other small businesses

whose owners may not have adequate cash flow to withstand temporary closure.   

“Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and now more than ever, we’re looking to

creative solutions like DEED’s emergency loan program to help them weather these extraordinarily

difficult times,” said Walz.

The executive order also allows local units of government or lending partners that have a revolving

loan fund to use those funds to issue loans to retail and service providers for the next 90 days. DEED

estimates that up to $28 million in capital could be accessible through local revolving loan funds and local

governments through this action. Local partners will be looking at ways to deploy these resources to

support their local businesses. 

For the latest information from DEED for employers and businesses and workers, visit the DEED

COVID-19 Information page on  the DEED website.

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