Michigan started 2022 with fewer jobs, lower adjusted household incomes and a lower job participation rate than before previous recessions, leaving a shakier foundation to withstand an economic downturn.
Rising interest rates are meant to stem inflation, but the results can be “painful” as the economy shrinks, state business leaders say. Michigan has recorded three straight months of job losses, a sensitive topic for the state.
Jobless workers have struggled for years with the state’s unemployment system, resulting in lawsuits and calls for change. Now — after a pandemic filled with still more problems — the state is seeking a new vendor.
The state’s unemployment agency says it’s on target for sending IRS tax forms to workers by the end of February. But some workers face the prospect of having to declare benefits as reportable income even though they may later have to return the money.
The pace of fraud has slowed, officials were told on Thursday. However, it remains unclear to what extent the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has fixed its problems or identified which cases amounted to crimes.
A June letter confused and terrified nearly 700,000 jobless residents who were told they might have to repay benefits, according to testimony Tuesday at a House Oversight Committee meeting. It’s just the latest misstep by the state unemployment agency.
The 648,000 Michigan residents who received federal pandemic relief benefits in error will not have to repay the funds if they applied in good faith. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said waivers will be awarded if payments were the state’s error.