Many Minnesotans struggling with unemployment benefits application

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Some Minnesotans out of work during the crisis say they're struggling to get answers about unemployment insurance.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) now says more than 160,000 people have applied for unemployment benefits over the last nine days.

Commissioner Steve Grove estimates 28% of Minnesotans will be temporarily jobless over the next two weeks.

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Between air travel and rideshare companies, these are two industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It's very slow, extremely slow," said Todd Neumeyer, who is filing for unemployment.

Unfortunately for Todd, he has jobs in both.

"I've tried to adapt to them but it's kind of difficult," Neumeyer said. 

Neumeyer is now filing for unemployment benefits online, but says it hasn't been easy.

"I've tried it 10 times now, and you have to start over each time," Neumeyer said. 

DEED says they are getting thousands of unemployment applications each day. While their phone lines remain overwhelmed, they are trying to answer many questions on the website.

"The website itself was good and I understood how to navigate it," said Joshua Salsbury. 

Joshua is a bartender at Lush, and he too had to file for unemployment, but his experience has been a bit better.

"I lucked out, my employer got us going on the right foot there," Salsbury said. 

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Since figuring out the process to apply, Salsbury went to Facebook to offer advice for others filing for unemployment benefits.

"I got mine done and I was like oh how's this guy going to do it, I just wanted to make sure that everybody was taken care of," Salsbury said. 

A DEED representative says if you have questions go to the "Frequently Asked Questions" section on the website. They're updating that list daily because many people have unique situations. Plus, you're advised not to call to see if your application was received. DEED is processing every application that has been received. 

Salsbury also recommends using a computer rather than a phone or tablet when you apply. 

"If you don't use the right back buttons or you try to use your phone it messes up your application," Salsbury said. 

While thousands of Minnesotans are out of work, the uncertainty can be overwhelming, and many hope a little relief will help pass the time. 

"I don't know how long this is going to last but I'd like to get some assistance and move on," Neumeyer said. 

"I would give anything to pour somebody a drink right now and say have a good time," Salsbury said. 

To learn more about how to apply for unemployment benefits, click here. For the section on Frequently Asked Questions, click here.