Record unemployment leaves Michigan residents worrying about benefits

US unemployment rate reaches 14.7%

DETROIT – As the new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan slowly continue to decline, the economic toll this pandemic has taken is only getting worse.

Friday’s new jobs report proves it. About 20.5 million American jobs were lost in April. It’s the most sudden and largest drop since the government started tracking job loss in 1939.

In total, that puts the United States unemployment rate at a staggering 14.7%.

Many people are trying to navigate the unemployment system for the first time, and it hasn’t been a smooth process.

The problem in Michigan is getting through the system. There are more than 1 million people trying to call and log on to get their benefits, and many are still having trouble.

Almost 31 million Americans are out of work, and many are frustrated.

READ: Gov. Whitmer signs order expediting unemployment benefits for Michiganders

Michigan resident Miranda Brooks is among those trying to file since March.

“It’s extremely frustrating," Brooks said. “I have called -- just last week alone in my phone calls -- it was something like over 600 times in one week I tried to call.”

She worked in the Jewish Community Center, but now she’s out of work and worried about paying the bills that are starting to pile up, just like millions of others.

“I still have a phone bill due,” Brooks said. “I still have health care premiums due. I still have a car payment due. Those things don’t stop.”

In Michigan, many people have had trouble logging on or calling in. Hank Winchester has some advice:

  • Wednesday and Saturday are the best days to call, specifically in the evenings.
  • More Michiganders are now eligible to file, including independent contractors, self-employed residents and low-income earners.
  • Residents can also work part-time and still collect, but they should pay attention to how much they earn because it could affect whether they can continue to collect.
  • It typically takes about 17-20 days to get the money, but every situation is unique.

The team at the Michigan Unemployment Agency is working to try to navigate the issues.

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