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Unemployment insurance claims lowest since 2007

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will provide summaries of unemployment benefits paid in 2014 to 178,649 Minnesotans, the lowest level of claims since before the Great Recession.

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will provide summaries of unemployment benefits paid in 2014 to 178,649 Minnesotans, the lowest level of claims since before the Great Recession.

The state's summary forms are sent to every applicant who received unemployment benefits. In 2009, DEED sent 351,458 summaries. In 2010, DEED sent 348,780 summaries to Minnesotans who received unemployment benefits.

The number of applicants who received benefits in 2014 will take the state down to pre-recessionary levels. In 2007, DEED sent 181,927 forms outlining benefits paid.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Minnesota fell to 3.7 percent in November, well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. The state's unemployment rate is at its lowest level since May 2001.

"The state's low level of unemployment benefits paid in 2014 is another indicator of the state's economic strength," said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben, in a news release. "With the addition of new jobs and high job vacancies, the state is focused on continuing to connect all Minnesotans with the right training for the available jobs."

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The U.S. Department of Labor recently presented DEED with its "2014 Performance Excellence Award for Unemployment Insurance Appeals" during a recent National Association of State Workforce Agencies annual UI directors' conference.

And DEED received the award for creating a new, innovative training program for its unemployment law judges and for developing an online self-service scheduling system for appealing decisions on unemployment insurance benefits.

As a result of these changes, Minnesota has achieved a 100 percent score for six consecutive quarters based on the U.S. Department of Labor's quality review. The changes also enabled Minnesota to issue timely unemployment appeals decisions over the last several years, thus reducing improper benefit overpayments and ensuring that citizens who were entitled to benefits did not have lengthy wait times to receive those payments.

Minnesota currently exceeds federal standards for timeliness, issuing 88 percent of all appeal decisions within 30 days of appeal and 96 percent of decisions within 45 days of appeal. The average age of a pending case is now 13.5 days.

The state's UI Program provides temporary partial wage replacement for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Under state law, UI clients can appeal if they are not satisfied with a benefits determination by the UI Program. The appeal includes the right to a fair and impartial hearing before an unemployment law judge.

The department is the state's principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more information, go online to http://mn.gov/deed/ .

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