Lawmakers not satisfied with services for unemployed

Members of a Minnesota House panel told state officials today to do a better job serving unemployed workers.

The House Workforce Development Committee heard from laid-off steelworkers still waiting for unemployment checks to arrive, and non-English speakers who don't get adequate help at workforce centers.

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, says the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, or DEED, received millions in federal stimulus money to boost unemployment services and benefits, but people are still falling through the cracks.

"Nobody in this state should have to, when they've earned it, have to wait for four to six weeks to get a check from DEED," said Rukavina, "because there's nobody at DEED waiting four to six weeks to get a payroll check."

DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy maintained there are relatively few problems in the system.

"With 175,000 people receiving benefits every week, to have a relatively small number that are complicated isn't good news. We're going to do our best to fix it. But it also isn't terribly surprising," McElroy said.

He said the state received $700 million in federal stimulus money to pay for expanded benefits and programs for unemployed workers in the state.

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