DETROIT – It was announced Thursday that 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past week.
That number means 10 percent of the American workforce has been lost in just the past three weeks. The unemployment system as a whole has been overwhelmed.
Michigan has seen record unemployment numbers, dwarfing the numbers we saw in the downturn a decade ago.
There is some good news, the head of Michigan unemployment, Jeff Donofrio, said we’re seeing the numbers plateau. There’s also new and helpful information for independent contractors and people who are self-employed when it comes to getting benefits.
“We’re going to have a new system that they can file in the next couple of days and we’re going to make an announcement very shortly,” Donofrio said. “We’ll walk them through exactly how they should file.”
Just under 385,000 initial claims came in last week alone. There were 300,000 the week before and just over 129,000 three weeks ago. That’s more than 800,000 in a three week total.
Donofrio said the state has had to scramble to ramp up its phone center with the usual 150 advisers. They added another 150 and now has 400 more coming online.
Still, it’s chaotic. Donofrio said you should only use the unemployment phone lines if you have a technical issue like you need a password resent, you’re an I.D. theft victim or have opened multiple accounts.
Everyone needs their money -- $362 prorated from the state that lasts 39 weeks. Then $600 a week that’s supposed to come from the federal government and last until the end of July with no strings attached.