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Mich. worst state in Midwest for unemployed workers, says report

Mathieu Turle

Michigan's unemployment insurance system is not keeping up with other Midwestern states, according to a recentreport from the Michigan League for Public Policy, a policy institute that advocates for low-income people. 

The League's report said Michigan falls short among eight Midwestern states in providing a safety net to unemployed workers looking for jobs.

"We do not provide as many weeks of unemployment insurance. We do not pay as high benefit levels," said Peter Ruark, senior policy analyst with the League and author of the report. "And it is a lot harder for unemployed workers to get unemployment insurance in Michigan."

According to the report, Michigan's jobless can collect benefits for only 20 weeks, compared to 26 weeks in all seven nearby states. And Michigan pays the lowest maximum benefit and the lowest average weekly benefit as a percent of the state's average weekly wage.  

"Unemployment insurance matters for  the Michigan economy," said Ruark. "Having a good unemployment insurance system not only helps unemployed workers, and that in itself is important. But it also puts more money into local economies."

The report urges lawmakers to strengthen Michigan's unemployment insurance system.

Recommendations include:

  • Restoring the 26 week maximum for getting unemployment benefits. 
  • Expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance to unemployed workers seeking part-time work and those who left their jobs out of necessity such as compelling family reasons.
  • Tying the maximum benefit to the state's average weekly wage instead of leaving it at a fixed amount of $362 where it has been since 2002 when $362 was 51% of Michigan's average weekly wage. In 2016 it was 39%