Pandemic unemployment benefits to end as COVID hospitalizations rise

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders expected to lose benefits

It’s a milestone that many did not want to see -- the end of federal unemployment benefits granted during the pandemic.

DETROIT – It’s a milestone that many did not want to see -- the end of federal unemployment benefits granted during the pandemic.

More: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 hospitalization data trends

The flat top grill at Nanna’s Kitchen in Wyandotte stays busy all day. As restaurants around the area closed during the pandemic, Nanna’s Kitchen picked up more business.

Owner said Al Gjetaj said he could use more help.

“I’ll wake up 5 in the morning and have three text messages from workers at 4:15 a.m. saying he can’t make it or ‘My mom died’ or this or that,” Gjetaj said. “You’d be shocked at how many times someone’s mother dies.”

Manager Renee Casias said she and Gjetaj often work open-to-close, 13-14 days straight.

“I hired a customer from right of the table one time,” Casias said. “I got a server that used to work here to come back, I brought her child in. I brought my own child in.”

W.E. Upjohn Employment Research Economist senior economist Brad Hershbein said there’s already a bellwether to look at.

“If we thought that people were going to be rushing to jobs because they saw their benefits about to expire, today’s jobs release numbers were not in accord with that,” Hershbein said.

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Nanna’s Kitchen said they aren’t worried.

“There’s only up from here,” Casias said.

“Regardless of who’s here or not, I’m going to open every single day and we’re going to work every single day,” Gjetaj said.

Other states ended their unemployment benefits earlier and the expected uptick in job applications didn’t happen. It’s believed it’s because many people are still wary of COVID, need child care or have other concerns with the job market.

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About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

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.