WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – The federal government’s $600 per week coronavirus (COVID-19) unemployment bonus is set to expire by the end of the month, but will it be extended before then?
Michigan’s economy is in a strange place, as businesses that have reopened are having a hard time finding workers who are making more money through unemployment.
At the same time, there are many Michiganders receiving the extra benefits who don’t have a job to go back to.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D) got emotional Thursday while talking about the number of unemployed people across Michigan and the country.
“People are scared,” Dingell said. “They’re very focused on what is going to happen on July 30, and they don’t know how they’re going to live.”
She and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D) held a Zoom press conference calling for the benefits to be extended.
“These are our neighbors,” Tlaib said. “These are daughters, mothers and fathers. These are people who are trying to do their best with no fault of their own. The pandemic has affected them and we can’t sit by and not allow unemployment benefits.”
“All of a sudden we’re going to stop paying unemployment and people who shouldn’t be at work and need to stay home are going to be afraid they can’t stay home?” Dingell said. “That is the biggest danger to the community spread in the spikes we’ve seen.”
There has been a move in Washington to negotiate an extension, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said this week that it likely wouldn’t come before benefits run out. Negotiations are ongoing.
“It’s time the U.S. Senate gets off their a--, and yes, I’ll use that word, and do something because there are people they represent (who) are scared to death,” Dingell said.
Part of the program extended benefits to many who otherwise wouldn’t qualify, especially small business owners. Considering how slowly states are reopening, an extension of the benefits could further depress Michigan’s economy.