Michigan’s Unemployed Face Early Cut-off of Unemployment Benefits

Michigan State CapitolUnless state lawmakers take action by March 24th, unemployed workers in Michigan could lose up to 20 weeks of unemployment insurance known as “Extended Benefits.”  The federal government now covers 100% of the cost of these benefits for non-government employees.  Thanks to federally funded Extended Benefits, over one billion additional dollars flowed into Michigan since the recession started—benefiting unemployed workers and businesses alike.  Nearly 250,000 of us, our friends, family members, and neighbors have counted on these benefits (an average of $284 per week) to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

On April 2nd, an estimated 35,000 unemployed workers in Michigan will be cut-off of the Extended Benefits they’ve been receiving—unless the legislature acts.

All the state needs to do to continue receiving these federally funded benefits is to enact a technical fix to the state’s unemployment insurance law.  In December, the federal government passed legislation that would enable high unemployment states to continue providing Extended Benefits throughout 2011.  However, each state must enact its own conforming legislation to take advantage of the federal law.  Republicans and Democrats in neighboring Minnesota and Ohio came together recently and passed legislation enabling individuals to continue to receive these benefits, while lawmakers in Maine, Washington, and Delaware—states with comparatively low unemployment rates—have also passed the technical fix.

“Michigan’s labor market continues to bear the scars of a fragile recovery,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.  “The billion dollars of federally funded benefits that Michigan’s unemployed workers have received to date have helped boost local businesses and played an important role in the state’s nascent recovery.  It would be unwise to backtrack on these efforts now.  We are deeply disappointed that lawmakers would put Michigan families and a fragile recovery at risk by choosing to take the foot off the accelerator.”

If you're in Michigan, tell your state senator that Michigan needs to pass the Extended Benefits fix now!

The legislature’s failure to adopt this small change is the only thing that stands in the way of unemployed workers being able to secure the benefits they, and the local economy, so desperately need—and that the federal government is underwriting.

If you're in Michigan, tell your state senator that Michigan needs to pass the Extended Benefits fix now!

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