Michigan jobs go unfilled when workers make more from unemployment

Many jobs — particularly low-wage or low-skilled positions — are going unfilled as the state allows most of its businesses to reopen to the public. (Shutterstock)

A curbside job fair near Grand Rapids on Wednesday tried to make it easy for 50 companies to fill open positions. Applicants could interview from their cars and in some cases might have been able to start work the next day. 

“Right now we have 270 jobs that we could fill if we had the right people,” said David Robb, director of operations for Express Employment Professionals of Wyoming, which set up the event.

Across the state in Bad Axe, Shaun Parrish would be happy to hire just a fraction of that number. Huron’s Finest, her family’s market, is struggling without enough workers. Parrish needs to hire at least four people just to cut back on 10-hour days and offer vacations to workers, deemed “essential” during the stay-at-home order. They got the independent store through months of curbside sales before it reopened just as summer sales exploded.

“We are still running at reduced hours at the height of our seasonal busy season,” Parrish said. “We are having a difficult time finding anyone willing to come off unemployment.


“The frustration is, how do we get people back to work when there’s really no incentive for them to?”

Michigan’s unemployment rate hit 22.9 percent in April, and initial filings for jobless  benefits show that 45 percent of the state’s workforce has been touched by temporary or permanent job loss since March 15. Hundreds of thousands of them are still waiting for unemployment benefits amid the surge of applicants and a wave of frozen accounts amid a fraud investigation. 

At the same time, some jobs — mainly low-wage or low-skilled positions — are going unfilled as the state allows most of its businesses to reopen to the public.

One reason: Temporary unemployment benefits that are higher than wages, creating what economists call a disincentive to seek a new job.

“You can earn up to $24 an hour and earn more in unemployment than in your prior job,” said Michael Horrigan, president of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo.

The situation is prompting employers to raise pay, some on a temporary basis, for new hires and among essential workers who may have worked longer hours or harder shifts during the pandemic.

In the meantime, jobless workers who are earning more than their wages face decisions through the end of July about whether they should continue to take the higher benefits and hope their layoff is temporary, or look for another job before the extra payment ends.

Horrigan recently analyzed Michigan’s unemployment system and how payments to jobless workers compare to their lost wages. 

Michigan workers applying for unemployment can be eligible for up to $362 in benefits per week if they earned $16.98 per week or more. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance adds $600 to that through the end of July. 

That means that workers at the top of the benefits scale would take home $962 per week until the federal benefit ends. Of the 700-plus job categories in Michigan for which Horrigan analyzed average pay data, workers in 64 percent of them would earn more under the existing unemployment benefits program criteria. 

The average worker in this group receives an average of $898.61 weekly on unemployment, compared to $601.56 on their previous job,” Horrigan said.

The more education a job requires, the less likely that jobless benefits will fill a wage gap, Horrigan said. 

But for 82 percent of Michigan’s workers in jobs requiring a high school diploma or less education, they’re eligible to make more on unemployment than in their jobs, compared to 64 percent of all of Michigan’s workforce.

“The number of people who are going to make more on [unemployment insurance] is heavily weighted to those with less education,” Horrigan said. One example is construction laborers, Horrigan said, who make on average $17.09 per hour. With unemployment, 77 percent of them could make more money, he said. 

The state’s unemployment system was augmented by the federal CARES Act as coronavirus threatened the United States and both federal and state leaders set up safety nets for displaced workers. In Michigan, that included extending benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks. While the state’s maximum benefit hasn’t changed in 18 years, the federal move expanded it to part-time and contract workers.

“It was designed so that it’s a maximum incentive,” Horrigan said, “but there was no time to figure out all of the nuances for income protection.”

Ultimately, the goal was to get people to stay home for prolonged periods of time to keep the virus from spreading “and make sure they can live and pay the rent,” he said.

That goal was achieved for many people, Horrigan said, during the heat of the crisis.

“Was it perfect? Absolutely not,” Horrigan said. “Will the incentive remain forever? No.” 

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said recently that he doesn’t expect the $600 PUA payment to be extended beyond July 31. Some reports indicate it could be replaced by a back-to-work bonus.

But in the meantime, job openings are increasing in Michigan.

“We’re seeing a big resurgence in hiring,” said Robb. Express Employment Professionals, a national franchise, has operated in West Michigan since 1996, he said, and placed about 30,000 people in jobs since then. 

Robb regularly works with an estimated 300 employers. His most recent openings are to fill mostly light manufacturing and skilled trades positions, along with jobs in warehouses and distribution.

The drive-up job fair was organized as recruiters tried to reach a lot of potential workers at one time, he said. A virtual job fair about a month ago resulted in 400 sign-ups, and the company is making it easy for applicants to drive into their parking lot, fill out an application and talk to a recruiter without leaving their car.

About 100 people showed up Wednesday. “At least a dozen have already been placed in jobs as of this morning,” Robb said on Thursday.

Robb said he and his clients are used to a tight labor market, after Michigan’s unemployment was around 4 percent in 2019. The hiring demand that started around the end of May is starting to push base pay rates up, Robb said, as employers realize they’re competing with unemployment.

“Employers are adding $1- to $3 per hour to get people back right now,” he said. 

Parrish is also turning to higher base pay and raises at her family’s market in the Thumb region of Michigan. Unlike a full-service grocery, it sells fresh cut meat, deli products and produce, and it’s been a community staple for 35 years. 

During the early weeks of the pandemic, Parrish said, “We got overrun with shoppers. It was complete madness.”

The small store couldn’t control the number of shoppers, so it started to limit sales to curbside. The shift was difficult, Parrish said, despite community support. At the same time, meat costs spiked and buying products became more difficult. Four employees left over COVID-19 health issues and child care, and three ended up deciding not to come back as the store reopened to shoppers. 

Now, as she tries to replace that person and bring on summer help, employees and Parrish’s family, including her father, Jim Cox, are working at capacity. They had to close on Sundays, she said,  “just to give employees a break.”

Now Parrish worries about losing other employees as the region’s unemployed workers overlook the store’s hiring signs or may be turning to larger employers, like the Meijer store opening soon nearby. She said the safety net was important this spring, but the dollar value seemed more suited to a bigger city than the small town with small businesses as employers.

“They were handed all this money,” she said of the region’s laid-off workforce. “It’s way more than anyone could make in this area.”

The longtime workers who kept the store going through the stay-at-home order receive overtime, funded through the store’s Paycheck Protection Plan loan. Parrish describes them as loyal, and knows they’re stretched thin. She worries, too, about what happens when sales level off in the fall, or the new big-box store takes sales away. The store isn’t selling as much as it could this summer, simply because the staff can’t handle more hours.

“They were considered essential,” Parrish said, “but they’re stressed out.”

Tapping into Michigan's Work Share program is one way that the manufacturing industry is dealing with the unemployment disincentive to return to a job when a worker is called back to a job, said John Walsh, CEO of the Michigan Manufacturing Association. 

Under the program, workers can come back at reduced hours and not lose the additional federal jobless benefits through July 31. 

“Many, many of our manufacturers have put in the time and effort to bring their employees back with this plan,” Walsh said. 

It hasn’t always worked, though. If a business didn’t qualify, Walsh said, “there are some disgruntled employees when they come back.”

Horrigan also said that the plan can help bridge the gap when calling workers back. It also signals that a job loss is less likely to become permanent, something that employees will value beyond the short-term financial benefit gain.

Michigan can expect to replace 75 percent of its lost jobs due to coronavirus by the third quarter of 2022, according to University of Michigan economists in a statewide forecast. If that’s the case, unemployment will be higher than recent years, making jobs more scarce. 

Robb said that’s a reason for unemployed workers to consider looking for a job now that some companies are hiring.  Many have struggled to get their jobless benefits as the state struggled first with a wave of applicants and then froze 400,000 accounts amid a fraud investigation.

“Unemployment is not guaranteed,” Robb said. Getting a job before the end of July means “some security and there’s not a gap in your work history. And you’re not left with nothing when your unemployment benefits run out.”

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Kevin Grand
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 2:25pm

That was the democrat's plan all along.

Pay people more to not work and then get them hooked on it, so they have a pool of voters come election day.

Sorry NotSorry
Mon, 07/20/2020 - 2:46pm

The Michigan UIA and employers that need employees are lazy. If there's work available, you're supposed to take a job. Clearly, the employers and UIA are not following up on this. It's not rocket science.

Sorry NotSorry
Mon, 07/20/2020 - 2:48pm

It was not a democrat's plan. It was the GOP who decided it was a good idea to pay the unemployed WAY more than the usual amount they should have collected.

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 3:00pm

Problem: It’s hard to find workers when they can make more doing something else.

It really seems like there is an obvious solution here.

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 4:28pm

Let's not feel too sorry for employers who don't pay a liveable wage with benefits. How else can working families negotiate in an economy designed to push profits to those at the top while the rest of us struggle to get by. Michigan workers really haven't seen meaningful wage growth in decades, and we're treated to this predictable reporting by Gardner, sympathetic to the chamber of commerce, but no so much with Michigan workers.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 12:43pm

Yes, Paula always had the side of business when she wrote for the AANews. I saw her by-line on this and the title gave it all away. Sad that the Bridge had to allow her to continue this kind of slanted stuff. What's next? A story about the success of Amway and how much it's done for its 'distributors'?

Rob Pollard
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 5:11pm

I'm not as negative on Paula as you are, but I see your point. Bridge (which I donated to) is starting to become Detroit News-esque and that's not what I'm paying for. If Nolan Finley or Ingrid Jacques make their way over, I'm out.

It's fine to point out that this higher unemployment "bonus" has made it harder to fill certain jobs; I think it's dishonest when some Dems deny that this is happening in certain cases. But as you noted, the bigger issue is Paula et al need to prod these respondents: why don't you pay more?

The PPP loan program (which become grant, i.e., free money, if certain now relaxed terms are met) is for money to be spent on employees and there is still $100 billion available. Why not take out a loan/grant and pay your employees $5/hr more through the end of the summer as "hazard pay"? Most of that salary will be forgiven, the employee gets more money, and the employee has a job that the business person needs filled.

Be a little creative. It's a pandemic.

Tim Dolan
Sat, 06/20/2020 - 8:58am

I think the problem isn't just money. It's tangible benefits. Nobody wants to make $18 an hour with no PTO, no health options, and no retirement contributions. Even the idea of just raising pay until the end of the summer to incentivize workers to come back is a terrible idea. If you can afford to pay them more now, you can afford to keep paying them at yes a slight hit to your profit. People need to realize that your time is worth money, and regardless of the job you do your time is always going to likey be worth more than you're being paid. That being said, there is nothing wrong with seeking fair compensation for your time, certainly when health of your family is a major concern and going out during the pandemic is giving people anxiety. Take care of your employees, treat them like family and stop treating them like commodities.

Joseph j hebel
Sat, 06/20/2020 - 10:28am

Exactly! It's always the poor and underpaids fault!, while the rich CEO's and bribed polititions run to the bank.
For some of these people it's the first time in there life they were making a decent wage!

middle of the mit
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 7:42pm

Conservatives need to figure out what is happening. Is the country opening up and unemployment going down, or are workers not going back to work when called upon because workers control their unemployment insurance?

And then they have the ever so fraught upon not getting my unemployment check.

I know people who went back to work because they weren't getting that vaunted $600 per week extra or the check they were supposed to get. And I have never been able to extend my unemployment beyond what my employer was allowed.

And who are these people up here, in the hinterlands, that don't think those workers who get that extra money will spend it in THEIR STORE?

There is NO CEO spending money in your store, bonus, stock options, bailout funds.....it isn't happening. Do you know who is going to spend in your stores? Those people that get that extra money.

As a Public Service Announcement, I would also encourage those people who do receive extra money to save some for taxes. Because, YES! Unemployment is taxable and those extra funds are going to put you into a wholly different tax bracket.

But isn't it funny that we take regulation off of the Bankers, give them the money to loan us that is meant for us during a crisis so they can make money off of us, bail their investments out and the only people that get beat down for getting "more then they deserve" are the poors?

I find it repulsive.

Sorry NotSorry
Mon, 07/20/2020 - 2:53pm

Totally agree, middle of the mit

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:37am

Can not blame them the way that the republicans have been screwing people all these years!!!

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:58am

Totally ridiculous. Anyone refusing to work should have all their unemployment terminated immediately on the spot.

Ted Slater
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:59am

You know what else workers get when the don't take one of those jobs right now? Less exposure to SARS-CoV-2. That's a great benefit. We need to understand that, annoying as it may be, pandemics don't go away by fiat, and COVID-19 is potentially deadly. Stop trying to make this about Michigan workers being lazy or greedy. This is a public health issue.

Sarr Blumson
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 9:40am

The article doesn't mention the other reason people aren't ready to go back to work: safety. All of these are high people contact jobs. And, as one quoted owner acknowledged, they are unable or unwilling to enforce separation and mask requirements.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:02am

This is all true, but the financial comparison is not the whole story - many former relatively low-wage service workers also lack health insurance and are very afraid of being forced to go back to a workplace that they think may be unsafe, especially if they have children at home - I have three relatives in this position, two in Texas where they have legitimate reason to be terrified

Jan T
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:02am

If the minimum wage was raised, and workers were gauranteed benefits such as medical, sick days, vacation days, some kind of universal pension funds that stay with them all their working lives they would have incentive to work, and apply themselves more when they work...

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:11am

This article perpetuates the Republican idea of the lazy worker. It says "one reason" is they make more money. The title reaffirms this. Here's the thing, most jobs aren't safe and Michigan and law enforcement are doing little to enforce safety on the job. The low-pay workers you mention mostly don't have health insurance, and many are being asked to come back on a part-time basis, giving up full-time benefits. Also, they likely now can afford healthcare, which is a good idea during the pandemic. To me, this is not journalism, it's just feeding into the Republican idea of the lazy worker exploiting unemployment. You claim this publication is unbiased, and yet, this article is no indicator of this. The government needs to make workplaces safe before they send people back to work. They haven't. People are scared.

Bad plan
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:15am

This is why paying people an incentive NOT to work is a bad plan. This result was completely predictable. Why would someone go back to work when they are given more money to sit at home.
What the employers should do is notify the state that the employees quit their jobs when they refuse to return to work. That will take away the unemployment gift, then when the guy wants to come back to work, cut his pay! It is obscene that taxpayers are footing the bill for people to refuse to work.

Eugene Debs
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:40am

Way to completely ignore that every person on unemployment *had* a job before all this started and is probably waiting and hoping for that job to call them back. Why would they take a temporary gig at a local supermarket, almost certainly making a fraction of their normal part and exposing themselves to the risk of coronavirus (that's right, it hasn't just disappeared!) when they can wait on their original job while being kept whole and, yes, make a little more in the meantime? I've seen far too many articles from Bridge and elsewhere highlighting how sad the bosses are that workers aren't chomping at the bit to put themselves at risk to make the bosses money.

And the entire article, of course, ignores what the pandemic has shown us: these essential jobs are underpaid and overworked. We desperately need people to do these jobs - society will quite literally come to a halt without them. But no one wants to do them for the pay being offered. It's clearly time for some restructuring to value them more than we currently do.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:01am

This anti-worker rhetoric I've seen around west Michigan is so harmful to the already-frayed social contract between employers and employees. Each of the interviewees are doing everything they can not to call unemployed workers "lazy" (besides of course Ms. Parrish who claims laid off individuals are "handed all that money" as opposed to, you know, the employer and employee both paying into a federal UI program during employment, insert eyeroll here). In reality, there are so few individuals who would rather sit at home on a benefit they know will run out rather than get back to steady employment. Those "just sitting" at home tend to be those with underlying comorbidities for whom it would not make sense for their health to go back to the factory floor (especially when so many employers are proudly flouting social distance policies). In reality, most technical-skill level employers have needed to bump up their pay in Michigan for years, with talent having fled the state for several decades. The story is always "low cost of living", but even relative to housing, auto, groceries, etc., most employers are still paying below what the market calls for. The "tight labor market" Mr. Robb references was literally the market speaking--that employers needed to raise wages to find qualified talent. Unfortunately, many employers have been unwilling to do so, and this is just the latest excuse to come from the c-suite and the business community. Stop blaming hardworking Michiganders to line your pockets during a recession!

Joseph j hebel
Sat, 06/20/2020 - 11:40am


Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:02am

The working poor are underpaid and have been for decades. Let the capital class rend their garments and wail that regular folks are finally realizing that they deserve much, much more than their old poverty wages. The rich spent the last 40 years offshoring the American manufacturing base, eviscerating unions, and torching the social safety net. Now they want to act the victim when their labor force suddenly and collectively realizes that they've been screwed? Tough.

Bob Balwinski
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:14am

Unlike the usual tax breaks and tax cuts for the top 1%, some low pay folks got a little temporary boost thanks to the Federal CARES Act. One would think that the world has ended if you read some of the comments in this article.
Well, I'm retired as is my wife. We, therefore, did not lose our jobs nor get laid off nor lose a paycheck. Yet, we each received $1200 checks because of the Federal CARES Act. What did we do with that $2400????? So far, we have donated $1400 to various "relief" funds for workers in need. We've tipped significantly on those take-out orders so our favorite local restaurants can stay open now and in the future. We plan to donate the rest in the near future.
What did that Jewish guy from Bethlehem say years ago, paraphrasing here........if you see a man without a coat and you have two, share. Those of us who are blessed have an obligation to help those in need according to this fellow. Well said, young man!!

Wendy L Sellers
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:57am

This article's title sounds like an indictment of a sound business decision: Take the position that allows people to make more money to support their families and lifestyle. Although the article expounds on one of the factors related to the difficulty some employers are having rehiring people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, it ignores another big reason people might not return to work: exposures to coronavirus. The article implies that people want to sit back and take advantage of the system, saying "One reason: Temporary unemployment benefits that are higher than wages, creating what economists call a disincentive to seek a new job." I hope the next article that looks into rehiring as the state "reopens" will look at the other underlying issues: lack of a living wage, lack of uniform protections from coronavirus exposures for workers, lack of health care coverage in case of illness, and how the politicization and misinformation campaigns around COVID-19 have caused confusion and mistrust in workers. Thank you.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 12:15pm

To be honest, I'm happy about that because. I have a job and don't want Michigan to be like Florida. There is too much of a rush to push people into "saving the economy" with little or no regard to safety. Florida is third in the country for new coronavirus cases. We should listen to Fauci. There won't be a second wave because we are still in the first wave. I would have a completely different opinion if everyone wore a mask and practiced social distancing, with enforcement like we do for seat-belt violations. Good God, why are people being so dumb? Look at the bars and behavior of people. I went to pick up an order at a restaurant and the people preparing the food were not wearing masks!!!

This is no joke and people who don't care about themselves are putting others at serious, unnecessary risk, just look at this:
Meanwhile, the president is having conventions and planning for the nominating convention in Florida! And, no, this is not anti-Trump. I'm just as perplexed by everyone demonstrating in the streets without masks and social distancing. Okay to protest, just do it safely. That goes for protesters and police. Wear a mask and socially distance yourselves!

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 12:18pm

Like I said back in April - forget UE, that $600 alone is more than I took home per week at the hospital (at $14/hr) during the Shutdown. Realistic pay in this state is $10-14/hr. People who make more are always surprised to find out how little everyone else has been getting by on all along! Some people got the $600 Covid pay (by going on UE), while others (like myself) remained on the job and did not. It made for a testy dynamic between us 'lower' paid workers. As a union buddy told me, "This is crazy! I've got people mad they're out of work, and people mad cuz they've GOTTA work," (among the workers he represents) because of that added COVID payment. Republicans spoke of "incentivizing" people not to work, because they understand how bad off workers are on their plantation. It's the Dems who always have to relearn just how poor a lot of us are (they're so damn busy trying to appeal to the magical "middle-class" - whoever the f*** they are).

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 12:49pm

Tell you what I’m going to do. I will get one of these jobs that do not exist near me and tell my boss that is expecting to have me back part time until business picks up that he is SOL because Republicans.

Earl Newman
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 12:56pm

This article might be OK journalism but it fails as social science. The data Is anecdotal And skimpy. It also leaves a lot of questions unasked. What are some incentives for seeking employment other than money? Ask some real people. You present a lot of statements regarding what people might be getting or what they might qualify for, or what the average worker gets. Find out how many people are actually getting these amounts. Report that.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 1:53pm

And furthermore (see above): The anti-worker rhetoric is largely being propagated by Republicans and businesses people working from home and keeping themselves safe, while exploiting lower class citizens. Many white collar people have the privilege of working remotely, and politicians are making classist decisions with a gross lack of regard for working class (and essential) workers. It's really ugly and manipulative, and I'm glad to see others reading this biased article are protesting it. We need to continue to be a countervoice to reduce the negative effects of anti-worker propaganda, and it is propaganda. One more point, if a worker is getting unemployment, if they refuse to go back to work, even if it is unsafe, they will lose their benefits. So do know this stuff is largely based on myth, not factual reporting. Anyone who has had to rely on unemployment could tell you these things. I enjoy Bridge as it does inform me about Michigan issues but would like to see more of the unbiased reportage they claim to espouse. This article especially really disappointed me.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 2:34pm

I am tired of all the hops I have to go through to get my comments shown. This I am not a robot crap. Find the crosswalks, find the street lights Preview my comments and post them Peace R.L.

William C. Plumpe
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 2:44pm

Easy solution to lack of low wage workers---pay them more.
Maybe a signing bonus with a wage increase? If unemployment pays more than a job why would any reasonable person work minimum wage with limited/no benefits? Pay them more so they know you value their labor.

Kathleen Underwood
Fri, 06/19/2020 - 3:53pm

That workers can be paid more in unemployment than they earned working provides evidence of how much the working and middle class has suffered over the past 3 decades. Wages simply have not kept up with the cost of living.

When I hear employers complain about workers who are not returning to work immediately, I say to them: were your salaries and benefits fair to your employees or were you stingy/greedy.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 4:42pm

Gee, I wonder why people are choosing the option where they make more money. I'm sorry, but this is capitalism at work. Supply and demand. If you want more worker supply then they can demand more money. If the employers would pay more in the first place this wouldnt be a problem.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 4:45pm

Its almost like the supply of workers is meeting the demand and employers need to pay more if they want workers. It's like some besutiful capitalist irony.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 5:22pm

Good grief this is stupid. Unemployment is a pittance. If an employer is not even paying that much that employer does not deserve to have employees. If an employer is paying a wage so low that the person qualifies for food stamps, other government programs, and they get more on unemployment that employer (and all of its holding companies) should be required to pay 100% of its taxes with no deductions, no write-offs, no avoiding capital gains . . . . you get the idea.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 6:09pm

Employers need to pay workers a living wage, they are too stingy with employees pay.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:55pm

I've been working an "essential" job thru all of this. 380 a week as shit 100 in gas. So end up with about 280 a week. I see people saying "livable" wage. You need $24 an hour to survive in Michigan? Your out of your mind. We don't have the same cost of living as NYC or LA. People bringing in 600/week to do jack shit while others pay 100 in gas to make half that and work their ass off.
Anyone that isn't actively seeking a job, or turns one down because they can make more off the federal unemployment should be required to pay back every penny they got from unemployment, and maybe more.

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 11:34pm

Faux news; for starters, you *can* work and be on unemployment at the same time; unemployment just ends up picking up the tab on the difference between your last job and your new one if the old one paid more. Further, given how much of a bitch it was to get on unemployment *before* the Covid wave, I seriously doubt people without jobs are just abusing the unemployment system.
There's always exceptions, but I doubt highly enough to be newsworthy.

Sat, 06/20/2020 - 6:39am

So pay them more to work then they get in unemployment. Simple.

Sat, 06/20/2020 - 8:02am

The reason people are not going back to work is because covid 19 is still here. The imaginary idea that people are not going back to work right now is because they make a little extra in unemployment is absurd. The state shouldn't even be reopening this fast since not 1 state met the federal guidelines on any level( including testing) to be able to safely reopen. Economist has even warned that opening to fast will cause an even greater economic crash and it will be worse because the will also be a mass amount of unnecessary death with it. If you want to complain about people getting rich, looking into how many billions the wealthy have gotten during the last few months of this crash and depression. That's where your outrage needs to be, not the people who lost their jobs and are making a few hundred more for 4 months.

Sat, 06/20/2020 - 8:36am

I am working at the hospital part-time and took care of Covid patients making just $900 a month,. I don't blame people who is getting $900 a week being laid off and doing nothing. Why not? Also, why government doesn't think about fast food workers who was not laid off but had to work 10-12 hours a week. How they can survive?

Homeless bum
Sat, 06/20/2020 - 8:47am

The gov just extended stay at home order to 7/16/20 I never worked in a restaurant and don't plan to . Most the jobs your explaining sounds like those school kids that ain't at school should get a summer job.

Big J
Sat, 06/20/2020 - 10:54am

I think its irresponsible at best to politicize the use and or need of unemployment benefits as just as much as the rest of state response to this pandemic. People didnt just go and quit or get fired; they were furloughed and laid off. I cannot blame a soul who would not return to work for a penny less then they were previously making; I sure wouldn't. People have bills and families that cannot be supported with low wages and many need that helpful assistance from the government. We should pursue fraudsters without impunity, but to wrecklessly criticize people who are already down and out is a low blow to the majority of society. This article is an OP-ed, it is not a news article. With all of the aid that's available, people still need money and go hungry; this administration is turning more toward its economic/reelection concerns than the fact that there are more than 100,000 people who have died, with more than 1 dying each minute of every day. That's the news... Does it make make you feel more secure and help you sleep at night to criticize our people? I dont know if all you "Trumpers" out there correctly remember or not, but you are the minority, so its probably best that you put your phones down so you can appropriately hold your Budweiser and Marlboro. Everything that's going on outside our window is a response to that "Good Ol' Party" that is out of touch with the majority of Americans, yet trying to grasp for power by any means necessary.
"The times they are a changin." - Bob Dylan

Sat, 06/20/2020 - 11:35am

Only in one part of the article is it mentioned that basically Michigan's small businesses have had ' Now Hiring ' signs in their windows for years, not just since the CARES Act.
They have this problem because small business owners do not for the most part pay a 'living wage ', therefore people can Not afford to work for them.
Its very simple; Minimum wage needs to go up to a ' living wage' and businesses that can't afford it should stop asking their employees to starve so the boss ' can have their dream to run a small business'.
The Economy of this country is consumer driven, that is a fact.
Consumer spending is linked to financial security, that is a fact.
They economy is not at Great Depression level right now because of the extra money in unemploymeny and PPP from the CARES Act. The Federal Reserve has asked Congress to extend these programs, because they see how it helps the overall Economy.
Many Health experts still say it is ill advised to completely 'open up ' the Country because the Pandemic is not over by far.
It is unfair and unsafe to demand that Taxpayers ' get back to work because Business says so!'.
It is our money and many people have paid into it for decades without ever drawing a dime, now that we need a fraction of what business' have drawn off the system, workers are supposed to just shut up and go risk your lives!
Even as State after State has had a surge of the Pandemic after reopening.
Clearly our lives are only valuable for working and paying taxes, once again!

John Jones
Sat, 06/20/2020 - 12:06pm

Did we forget about COVID-19? All of the companies mentioned in this article are companies where workers would be exposed to high volumes of people. Companies offering work from home jobs are not having trouble finding applications. Kroger had 4 deaths in Michigan from Covid-19 not to mention they haven't realsese the number of employees who have tested positive for the virus. You think people want to go out and work at a grocery store when you can pass the virus to a loved one.

Sun, 06/21/2020 - 8:31am

Being an employer in the State for over 25 years I can tell you that if a laud off employee is offered their job back and refuses they can no longer collect unemployment benefits. Also, in many instances if they continue to recieve benefits after they have been notified they will be required by the State to pay that back and a possible penalty as well. It is illegal in Michigan. This is a good lesson of why States need to require good identification from anyone making a claim for unemployment, welfare, food assistance and especially voting.

Gerald Fisher
Sun, 06/21/2020 - 5:45pm

The family that own the market that was deemed essential, how many people did they layoff during the pandemic? They shouldn't have laid off any but complains about not having enough people. This whole idea is based upon speculation I have yet to see any real data. The speculation only feeds the idea that low income people don't want to work.

Sun, 06/21/2020 - 6:25pm

A lot of comments have posed what is often referred to as a "simple" solution: Just pay employees more. Would that it were that simple.

For starters, businesses operate on pretty thin profit margins most of the time. This is especially true of businesses with perishable inventory, such as restaurants and grocery stores. When costs go up, whether those costs are for utilities, rent, inventory, or labor, at some point those costs have to be passed on to the purchaser of the goods or services the business is producing. Not to do so is financial suicide. So as those costs get passed on, the goods and services we want to purchase go up. So yes, if my wages go up, I can purchase more. But if everyone is forced to raise wages, actual purchasing power doesn't go up because goods and services cost more as well. If I make more but have to pay more for my groceries, gas, housing, etc., that raise doesn't help that much.

Furthermore, there are folks out there who have figured out how to do the math to figure out exactly how much they can afford to make and still maintain eligibility for the earned income credit, housing subsidies, state-funded health insurance, etc. I see it at tax time, and I can cite plenty of examples where someone making $10,000 to $12,000 in wages can parlay that into a standard of living equivalent to someone earning $40,000-$50,000, because the higher wage earner gets little or no tax refund, pays their own housing costs, and pays for health insurance. They work part of the year, then quit their job at the casino or wherever so they don't lose their benefits.

Finally, I have a real issue with what the State of Michigan is doing with the "work share" program. This federal program, the way I understand it, was put in place so that businesses could reduce their workers' hours and the workers could still pay their bills due to increased unemployment benefits. The employer then would also save money by reducing the cost of their labor force. Our governor, or someone in authority in Michigan, saw this as an opportunity to furlough state employees one day per week, thereby saving the state money, and putting more money in state employees' pockets. I don't think this was how the program was supposed to work, and it seems rather disingenuous for the governor to claim she has received little help from the federal government when they are paying a fifth or more of state employees' wages. At the same time, these furloughed state employees turn off their phones when there's a chance they might be called to work more than 32 hours in a week (say for wildfire duty) so that they don't lose their $600 a week. Please don't try to convince me this is okay.

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 9:52am

Your erroneous statement: "$10,000 to $12,000 in wages can parlay...into a standard of living equivalent to someone earning $40,000 -$50,000," is ridiculous with your listed justifications! I AM one of those earning $10,000 - and I still have to pay for health insurance (monthly co-pay to the State equalling %4 of my gross), car insurance ($1,200), house insurance (I own a trailer) and RENT (because I can't afford to buy land to move my house to). Just those things alone in Michigan cost me $7,000 a year! That's before food ($100/mo) and gas spent to get to my job ($80/mo) - so, on the remaining$70 or so a month I have, my living standard equals someone who grosses 4-5 times as much?! What planet are you on? Remember, I pay taxes TOO - 10% or more is lost before I even get a paycheck. You must believe the fantasy that 'poor' people don't have to pay for stuff cuz they make too little? Open your eyes! We pay MORE.

Robin Hood
Thu, 06/25/2020 - 1:57pm

Sounds like a lot of businesses have a broken business model.

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 2:30pm

Prior to 1981, when Reagan weakened/destroyed unions, including those for grocery workers, a cashier job was nearly as good as an auto factory job. They made around $20 an hour, full benefits, paid vacations, and a healthy pension. Now they're expected to work for $10 an hour and get Medicaid and food stamps. Sorry store owners. Can't get help? Maybe you should pay a living wage. I'm tired of subsidizing you!

Geoffrey Owen
Tue, 07/21/2020 - 12:28am

Meanwhile, the men and women in Washington who set up this program are making $4,000 a week and haven't been on the job for a month while the pandemic rages across the country and nothing is being done to protect our health and safety, or our economic future. Will schools be open? Will businesses be able to stay open? Will we even have an election in November? A few employers are quoted above as having opportunities today, as if Michigans 2 million unemployed all live in close proximity and have the qualifications the employers seek. Many on unemployment have yet to receive benefits. The UIA system that Snyder set up is in need of scrapping. Feds are charging a private contractor who has been stashing $2 million stolen from the system into designer handbags. Likely there are more like her. Economists say the bonus enemployment has given short term security to families and has been benefitted the GDP. No one seemed to care when the FED was printing trillions to cover the taxes no longer being paid or a runaway defense industry, or even $500,000 for every round of golf for 45. We need to chill and keep the system funded through the end of the year. The entire economy has been looted from the top down and there is nothing left that works for the man on the job with a family. The $600 per week might keep families afloat.