Unemployment Insurance

Issues: Economy

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment benefits do more than just help jobless workers.  Economists widely agree that unemployment benefits are among the most effective and quickest ways to strengthen the economy.  Research found that these benefits have a broad positive economic impact by maintaining demand for goods and services that helps businesses as well. Experts testified before Congress that every dollar of extended unemployment benefits generates almost $2.00 in increased economic activity.

The federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program expired on December 28, 2013.  As a result, 1.3 million job-seekers had their unemployment benefits immediately cut off in late December, and thousands more have lost access to these benefits with each passing week in 2014. The Department of Labor estimates that, as of the end of September 2014, more than 3.6 million Americans have been denied extended unemployment benefits because of the termination of the EUC program.

Bipartisan legislation passed the Senate in April that would have extended the EUC program for part of 2014, while also fully paying for the cost of that legislation, but the Republican leadership in the House refused to allow a vote on that measure. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending these benefits for another year would raise employment by 200,000 jobs through increased consumer demand. I joined other Ways and Means Democrats to call on Congress to extend the federal unemployment insurance program to support continued economic recovery and to help Americans who continue to look for work.

Additionally, I introduced legislation in the House (HR3546) that would extend the program for a year, and I have actively tried to bring to light the stories of the unemployed.  I truly believe that if Republicans in Washington listened to long-term unemployed workers in their districts, they would extend the program immediately. 

Here are some helpful links that show the news coverage and effects of the program’s expiration across the country.

State Unemployment Insurance in Michigan

Unemployed workers in the U.S. are normally eligible for 26 weeks of regular UI benefits, which has been the standard nationwide benefit since the 1950’s. Unfortunately, Governor Snyder and the Republicans in the Michigan legislature cut these basic benefits to 20 weeks starting on January 15, 2012. Michigan is the first state in the nation to vote to reduce this vital program for jobless workers.

Because Federal Unemployment Benefits are based on the duration of state compensation, the decision to reduce state benefits will continue to harm Michigan residents those who received 20 weeks of state UC will get far fewer weeks of federal benefits. To fix this inequity, I and members of the Democratic Caucus of the Michigan Legislature asked the Governor to restore the 6 weeks of state unemployment compensation cut January 15, 2012. See the letters here: Governor Snyder and Michigan Legislature

 

FAQ's on Unemployment Insurance

How do I register for benefits?

Contact Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency: 1-866-500-0017. Or to file a claim on-line:

What types of unemployment compensation are available for jobless Michigan workers in 2013?

There is currently only one type of benefit available, state benefits:

1.     State benefits: Unemployed workers may be eligible for up to 20 weeks of unemployment benefits.        

For all claimants who begin a claim for benefits after January 6, 2013, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency requires a systematic and sustained work search for each week they claim unemployment benefits. As a claimant, you must report your record of work search at least once a month.

What information do I need to file for benefits?

·        Your Social Security Number, your Driver License Number or State Identification Number or your MARVIN PIN (if you have one)

·        Names and addresses of employers you have worked for in the past 18 months along with your quarterly gross earnings and the last date of employment with each employer. 

·        If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, you will need your Alien Registration Number and the expiration date of your work authorization.

Key facts:

  • While the economy has made major gains since the depths of the Great Recession – with the private sector adding 10 million jobs over 54 straight months of job growth – long-term unemployment remains higher than at any time on record before the Great Recession. Close to one third of the unemployed have been without work for over six months.
     
  • Unemployment benefits support consumer demand and therefore job growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 
  • UI benefits also reduce poverty and home foreclosures. Unemployment benefits kept 11 million Americans out of poverty and federal benefits prevented 1.4 million home foreclosures between 2008 and 2012.
     
  • Extended unemployment benefits help long-term unemployed Americans continue their work search, rather than giving up and dropping out of the workforce.
     
  • As of the end of September 2014, the expiration of the federal EUC program has cut off 3.6 million Americans from unemployment benefits, including roughly 350,000 veterans.

(Updated October 28,2014)