Michigan lawmakers meet with residents frustrated with unemployment benefit struggles

LANSING, Mich. – Michiganders struggling to get their unemployment benefits told lawmakers how frustrating the system is Thursday.

It happened at a hearing in Lansing.

Even though more of the economy is reopening, unemployment numbers are still at historic highs. An estimated 1.5 million people applied for unemployment benefits across the United States last week. An estimated 21 million Americans are considered unemployed.

RELATED: 1.5 million more laid-off workers seek unemployment benefits

It’s the eleventh straight weekly drop in applications, but it’s a smaller drop than in recent weeks. Applications peaked at about 7 million applications in March.

In Michigan, many residents are still having problems getting their unemployment benefits, leading to Thursday’s hearing.

Lawmakers heard complaints from employers and employees, all frustrated with the unemployment system.

Thousands of Michiganders have struggled with applying for unemployment, tied up in the process or even identity theft.

RELATED: New scam steals personal information to file false unemployment claims

“It shouldn’t be this hard. Yeah, it might take a day or two or three or four, but not 16,” said Dr. Jason Williamson at the hearing. “At the very least, leave me a message, call my office, shoot me an email that says, ‘I will get with you as soon as I can. Somebody will get with you as soon as I can,' but like you said, it’s been radio silence, I’ve heard nothing and I know I’m not alone.”

The lack of communication is one of the reasons residents are frustrated with unemployment.

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.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.