Steve Gray was brought in to resolve problems getting benefits that he helped expose. But a little more than a year into the job, he has resigned from the system that was overrun by the coronavirus pandemic.
Some say it’s time for full reform. Others just want to make sure the state’s overwhelmed unemployment benefit system can handle today’s claims.
In a marathon session, the GOP-led Legislature also passed bills demanding subpoena power over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointees and approved a non-binding measure opposing defunding the police.
Economic relief programs that helped the state’s businesses and jobless now are on hold as the United States pauses new stimulus talks and the state confronts upheaval that impacts state unemployment benefits.
A Michigan Supreme Court ruling invalidating executive orders from governor also could jeopardize unemployment pay extensions. Tensions are flaring, with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calling Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey an “anti-masker.”
The state qualifies for a 20-week benefits extension, but not all workers will receive it. Some also are still waiting for $300-a-week bonus payments due to another fraud investigation.
As the new school year ramps up and the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, parents are having to make tough financial decisions. Nonprofits and social service agencies say they see families struggling to purchase materials for school, access child care and put food on the table.
'This is going to be the only recession in history where income goes up,' said University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes.
The state was approved for three more weeks of Lost Wages Assistance, and jobless workers should see that money by the end of September.
Payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1. However, state officials warn they’ll only last up to five weeks.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announces simplified renewal forms for millions of residents who may need food or cash assistance or other state benefits.
Michigan’s reserves to pay jobless claims are dwindling amid record unemployment claims. Starting Jan. 1, employers would have to pay more into the system, but some lawmakers want to avoid that prospect.
Consumer spending is up amid the pandemic, as Michigan residents are spending federal bailout money designed to keep the economy going amid the pandemic. But state economists warn Michigan still faces tough times.
Economists are starting to get data that indicate a longer, slower recovery period following steep job losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
‘We need to find jobs that people can keep,’ says one store owner as the second-largest employer in Evart closed this summer. It’s just another blow to a community fighting for stability during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly a million Michiganders who have lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic will eventually qualify for $300 per week in extra unemployment benefits, but the payments could take weeks to arrive and may last just weeks more.
President Trump is making extra unemployment benefits available because of the pandemic that has left more than 2.4 million Michigan residents jobless. The state could have pursued an extra $100 per week in benefits, but opted against it because of declining tax revenue.
The COVID-19 relief packages passed so far deny economic supports to thousands of immigrant families here in Michigan and millions more nationwide.
Michigan overhauled its unemployment insurance system nearly a decade ago to save money, root out fraud and make it harder for jobless workers to qualify for benefits. Now, with more than one million workers jobless, the state has flagged 1 in 3 claimants for fraud amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Four years before Steve Gray took over the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, he exposed a false fraud scandal that rocked state government and prompted reforms. Now, some lawmakers are calling for his ouster as he tries to fix a system crushed by record jobless claims amid the coronavirus pandemic.