Michigan has the dubious honor of highest unemployment rate in all of America. At 15.1% as of October, it leads the pack by a full 2 percentage points. Nevada (13.0%) and Rhode Island (12.9%) are the next highest state and California is the next large state at 12.5% unemployment rate.
The reason the unemployment rate is so high in Michigan is because of the concentration of auto and parts plants in that state. This industry was part of a high-profile government bailout and GM ended up going bankrupt anyway. Needless to say this provides for a spike in unemployment as the auto sector will probably take a while to stabilize.
Fortunately the federal government has authorized and funded several unemployment benefit extensions this year and the recent bill H3548 extension is the latest (and probably not the last). These extensions are part of the national stimulus package for 2009.
Michigan unemployment benefits are as follows:
- EUC Tier 1 – 20 weeks (7 weeks plus 13 weeks)
- EUC tier 2 – 14 weeks (used to be 13)
- EB – 20 weeks
- EUC tier 3 (new with bill H3548) 13 weeks or 19 weeks (if unemployment rate is greater than 8.5%)
This adds up to a total of 99 weeks.
The new benefits were originally planned to start in mid-December:
“We still anticipate that payments will begin on this new extension by mid-December,” Isotalo said. “Letters should be going out with information and instructions about the new extension and what people need to do to report for these new benefit payments” by Nov. 25.
In actual fact payments have already started for Michigan residents and many will get their checks starting just after Thanksgiving Day weekend.
The way things are set up now – these latest extensions will expire at the end of the year which means that not many people will get the full 20 weeks. You need to use the tier 3 up before Dember 31, 2009 in order to get tier 4 which at this point is difficult to do. There have been reports in the press that congress will be looking to extend the expiry date before the end of the year.
“Now that we have acted on the extension, we must quickly take up legislation to continue the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program itself, otherwise millions will be left without this important insurance come January,” concluded Rep. Levin.
“The action today responds to the needs of 100,000 in Michigan and one million people nationwide who have exhausted their benefits or will have exhausted them by the end of the year,” said Rep. Levin. “With six people competing for every available job, unemployed workers need insurance to feed their families and pay their bills.”
In Michigan there are 99,000 people who would have run out of benefits by the end of the year without the latest extension.