Archived Story

Long-term jobless benefits change

Published 9:03pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

For many years, Michigan has experienced an employment crisis.
The collapse of the state’s manufacturing giants had a ripple effect that touched every industry in the state and left hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents without jobs.
Some people moved to other states in search of work. Others trained for new careers in fields where workers are needed. Yet others chose to ride out the economic storm, collecting unemployment benefits while seeking employment in their chosen fields.
Michigan is now on the mend. The jobless rate is at a three-year low, and the economy is once again on the upswing.
Instead of trailing the rest of the nation in economic recovery, several reports show that Michigan is leading the way in job creation and economic growth.
The recovery is bittersweet for some people who have been collecting long-term unemployment benefits. Because Michigan’s unemployment rate has slipped below a certain benchmark, the Extended Benefit (EB) program is scheduled to end after payment of the week ending Feb. 18.
Unemployment benefits are in three levels. The initial claim, which is now 20 weeks in Michigan, is paid for by the unemployment assessment from employers.
The current Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) allows for up to 53 additional weeks of benefits on four different tiers, funded by the federal government. The EB program offered an additional 20 weeks, also funded by federal money.
The payment of the EB is determined by a formula that takes into consideration many factors regarding the number of unemployed workers and the unemployment rate in each state.
Based on data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan no longer meets the criteria to remain on the EB program. Current law provides a three-week phase-out period after which no further EB payments can be made. That final week in Michigan is the week ending Feb. 18.
Approximately 29,500 unemployed workers in Michigan could be affected by the loss of the EB program. The state unemployment agency is in the process of notifying those on the EB program that benefits will cease.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency has posted additional information on its website at www.michigan.gov/uia. Information also is available on the new toll-free unemployment update line at 1-800-638-3995. For information regarding additional resources for health care, family support, housing and more, individuals may visit www.michigan.gov/helpinghand.
Unemployed workers also should visit Pure Michigan Talent Connect at www.mitalent.org to obtain information regarding job and training opportunities for those who are still jobless.
Michigan has seen the worst and is now coming around.
By utilizing the tools available for job searches and retraining, we can turn Michigan into a place where people can work, play and raise a family.
If you have any questions regarding your unemployment claim or other issues affecting state government, please feel free to call me toll-free at (877) 262-5959 or via email at MattLori@house.mi.gov.

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