Pawlenty: 'Stimulus funds will help bring relief to unemployed'

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty says new stimulus funds will help unemployed Minnesotans survive the economic downturn.

Minnesota will get $130 million in federal money to help make unemployment payments to laid-off workers.

Minnesota qualified for the funds after making recent reforms to its unemployment insurance program.

"Obviously this is a very necessary part of our economic recovery."

In a conference call Wednesday, Gov. Pawlenty said the new money will be a big help to the state.

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"Minnesota continues to experience concerns about unemployment these additional funds will help bring relief to Minnesotans who are unemployed, have entered the unemployment ranks we want to do all that we can to help them and this money will be a great step in that direction," Pawlenty said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the $130 million in federal money will help unemployed Minnesotans weather the downturn.

"With the national unemployment rate that we are seeing, as well as Minnesota's unemployment rate, obviously this is a very necessary part of our economic recovery," Klobuchar said. "It's why I voted for the stimulus bill."

Lawmakers enhanced unemployment coverage for workers by allowing them to use their most recent earnings to qualify for benefits, even if they were only working part-time.

The stimulus bill makes a total of $7 billion available to states that have made certain changes to their unemployment insurance programs.