Smith, Craig unveil bill to grant high school students unemployment compensation

Smith, Craig unveil bill to grant high school students unemployment compensation
Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), left, and Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02), right, introduced legislation in Congress on Friday that would see high school students in Minnesota who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic eligible for unemployment benefits. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (KEYC) — Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02) introduced legislation in Congress on Friday that would see high school students in Minnesota who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic eligible for unemployment benefits.

The high school students would only be eligible to receive the unemployment benefits so long as they meet other necessary criteria applicable to adults.

Smith and Craig introduced the legislation to close the gap between Minnesota and other states, as Minnesota high school students’ unemployment claims have been denied while most other states allow high school students to receive unemployment compensation when they’ve lost jobs -- even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Furthermore, Minnesota high school students were unable to access unemployment compensation when Congress passed the CARES Act in March, which included provisions intended to allow students to receive unemployment compensation.

In addition, the Minnesota Congressional members say they want to update and clarify the language that is used in the next round of COVID-19 relief to overcome the conflicts with state law and help make high school students eligible for unemployment compensation if they meet all other criteria applicable to adults.

“Many high school students work during the school year—and especially the summer—to pay for everyday basic expenses or save for the future,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, the pandemic has put many of them out of work, leaving them short on cash during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. I’m pressing to help Minnesota high school students receive unemployment insurance during the pandemic because high school workers need relief now.”

“I am proud to work with Sen. Smith and my fellow Minnesota colleagues to correct a problematic disparity for the state’s high school students who are unemployed and would otherwise qualify for unemployment insurance at a time when access to every available resource is crucial,” stated Craig. “Right now, as all of our local economies are impacted by COVID-19 we’ve got to make sure hardworking families, including their children, are supported.”

When Smith and Craig unveiled The High School Student Unemployment Eligibility Clarification Act to Congress, they were joined by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Reps. Dean Phillips (MN-03), Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Betty McCollum (MN-04).

“The coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis across Minnesota and the nation,” said Klobuchar. “High school students have been particularly affected since so many students are no longer able to return to seasonal jobs. This legislation will make it clear that students have access to the full range of federal unemployment insurance benefits. I will continue working to ensure that all Minnesotans have access to much-needed relief during the pandemic.”

The bill is currently supported by Bridgemakers, Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, Center for School Change, Minnesota Alliance With Youth, Centro Tyrone Guzman, Minnesota Parent Union, Change Inc. Minnesota Youth Council, Children’s Defense Fund, National Youth Leadership Council, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, Community Integration Center (CIC), Pillsbury United Communities, Courageous heARTS, Somali American Social Service Association, Early College Academy Brooklyn Center Community Schools, Sundance Family Foundation, East Side Neighborhood Services, Twin Cities Changemakers, FamilyWise, We IMPACT!, Great Expectations, West Central Initiative, High School for Recording Arts, Women’s March Minnesota, IMPACT LIVING Christian Center, World Savvy, Ka Joog, Youthprise, and LISC Twin Cities.

The proposed bill can be viewed in full below.

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