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Budget limits efforts for unemployed

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is looking for ways to help unemployed workers, a task made tougher given its own economic challenges.

As the ranks of out-of-work Minnesotans swell, legislators say more should be done to assist people without a paycheck.

"We're trying to do whatever we can to help people get through this downturn and get people back to work and get them back on the benefits they're used to," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.

State officials have extended unemployment benefits, but legislators say additional help is needed.

Their efforts are limited by the state's budget crunch. Legislators acknowledge the $4.6 billion deficit makes it difficult to fund new programs.

The state's unemployment rate reached 8.1 percent in February, and 13,300 jobs were shed during the month alone. The unemployment rate is projected to top 9 percent by the end of this year.

Wente works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.