Surge of unemployment claims due to coronavirus crisis leaves Michiganders scrambling

Thousands of Michigan residents trying to file for unemployment

Thousands of Michigan residents are trying to file for unemployment benefits, but many are getting busy signals instead of results.

DETROIT – Thousands of Michigan residents are trying to file for unemployment benefits, but many are getting busy signals instead of results.

The spike in applications has flooded the system, so what can you do to get it done? Local 4′s Consumer Investigator Hank Winchester spoke with one of the top bosses at the unemployment insurance agency about the issue.

The reality is the coronavirus is affecting lives and the economy, so filing for unemployment benefits is a challenge.

Right now, the best option is to file online, but calling is also an option.

More than 130,000 Michigan residents have recently filed, and that extra work load is overwhelming. But steps are being taken to make the process easier.

“We can confirm that the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is currently experiencing an average 550% increase in claims compared to normal anticipated activity this time of year,” said Erica Quealy, a spokesperson for the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

If you want to apply for unemployment, click here to do so online or call 866-500-0017.

Filing online is fastest, state says

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) said due to the tremendous call volume, certain callers may receive a busy signal. The UIA is urging people to apply online.

Applying online in off-peak hours will expedite the process. The 24-hour website operates faster when there are fewer people on the site at any given time. The UIA also urges Michiganders using the website to expect longer load times. It may take several minutes for a page to load at this time. Users are asked to be patient and not click more than once to reload a page. Filing online remains the fastest way for Michiganders to apply for unemployment benefits.

Off-peak hours: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Applicants with questions can also access information on the website, including frequently asked questions about the process and current challenges due to COVID-19. Checking the website for answers may help alleviate pressure on the phone line. A downloadable handout on the filing process can be found here.

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.