LANSING, Mich. – Michigan will reinstate a requirement that people receiving unemployment benefits show they are actively searching for work, effective May 30, but has no plan to end a $300 weekly federal supplement going to 816,000 jobless residents.
All seven of the state's Republican U.S. House members wrote a letter to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday urging a halt to the extra payment, which is on top of maximum state benefits of $362 per week.
“We call on you to end participation in this program to get our state’s economy back on track and ensure our employers have access to the talent they need to return to normal,” they said, citing rising vaccination rates and echoing a call that at least one small business group made last week. They said the benefits are too robust, incentivizing the unemployed to not return to work.
But Lynda Robinson, spokeswoman for the state Unemployment Insurance Agency, said it does not plan to end any federal unemployment programs, including for self-employed or gig workers who began qualifying at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The extra federal benefit is set to expire in September.
The work-search requirement, which was waived starting in March 2020, will be restored. Claimants will have to conduct at least one work-search activity for each week they certify for benefits.
"The governor does not support taking unemployment benefits away from people who have lost a job through no fault of their own during a pandemic,” spokesman Bobby Leddy said Tuesday. "Instead, we will deploy the critical federal aid we’ve received through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to set up our state for success and ensure that Michigan’s families, businesses and communities emerge stronger than ever from this pandemic.”
U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Grand Rapids, said 16 states are opting out of the enhanced benefit.
The GOP-led state House last week approved a COVID-19 spending plan that would give unemployed workers $1,000 to enter the workforce. Whitmer has not outlined her position on the provision, instead urging legislators to work with her to increase child-care funding.
“That would do a lot more to give parents peace of mind so they go back to work," she said.
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