The shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic were mostly responsible for the over 200,000 unemployment claims filed in the state of Michigan during the first week of April 2020. As with many other parts of the country, residents of the state experienced a number of problems related to getting paid properly and technical problems with aging unemployment systems.
Record high numbers of unemployed workers in Michigan
Just under 400,000 claims were made during the prior week, and the state’s total since the beginning of the outbreak is about 1 million claims. Estimates put about a quarter of the state’s entire workforce in the ranks of unemployed during the pandemic. As of the time of the report, the state had paid out $745 million in benefits, but several hundred thousand were still waiting on their unemployment money. Michigan’s government has had to hire hundreds of people to answer phones and install new computer servers to meet the additional demand.
By comparison, the number of people in Michigan who were actively receiving unemployment benefits at the height of the great recession was about half of the number of active claims at the time of the news report.
The Director of the state’s Department of Labor and Opportunity said that he has seen very real suffering from many families across Michigan. He said that many working families have been patient and he is confident that the department will be able to meet the growing demand for benefits. The federal government has been sending out millions of dollars worth of aid to states around the country to help improve their administration and computer resources to handle the surge of claims each week. The U.S. Labor Secretary said that there will also be a process for states to apply for additional funding as needed.
The state started telling unemployed workers to file on certain days depending on the first letter of their last name. They also recommended that people try to file between 8pm and 8am to avoid high traffic volumes during the day. Despite these changes, the unemployment website has experienced many outages that each lasted several hours.
Legal professionals help protect the rights of workers
The time period immediately following a job loss can be challenging for a number of reasons. Some employers may illegally withhold wages, or they may have terminated workers for illegal reasons. If you are having issues with a former employer, it is important to speak with a lawyer immediately to protect your rights and receive all of the money you are owed.
Attorneys who assist with labor issues in Michigan are available
To speak with a lawyer who focuses on employment and labor law anywhere in Michigan, use the directory on USAttorneys.com and find a legal professional who matches your needs.