Tale Of Two Michigan Unemployment Stories
The State of Michigan is proud of the work it has done to make sure state residents who filed COVID-19 virus-related unemployment claims are being covered. A media release from the state points to comments from a University of Michigan economist who appeared before a state budget conference. He says the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency work is to be commended for paying benefits quickly. He says that has helped Michigan outpace the nation in consumer spending. Since the virus outbreak began in March, the state reports about $22 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid to more than 2.1 million workers. Sounds awesome. But there is another side to the story.
Marshall Republican State Representative Matt Hall is among the state lawmakers whose offices have been deluged with complaints from constituents about all sorts of problems and issues getting unemployment benefits. And testimony from the agency director seems to run contrary to the state’s rosy outlook. Representative Hall says his select legislative committee reviewing the state’s handling of the virus outbreak shows contrary information. He says fully 200,000 Michigan residents who have applied for unemployment are either getting partial payments or none at all.
Hall says the software running the system is flawed. Users can’t update data fields on their own. A simple mistake on an intake form that should be easy to correct, is not. Sometimes that means weeks or more of delays. And it gets worse, Hall says the agency director admits to nearly 40 percent of the calls into the agency two weeks ago, went unanswered.
Hall says the state can wave its flag all it wants. But when state residents aren’t getting the help they need, it can only be described as a failure.