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Governor Snyder signs bill to protect unemployed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2011

Contact: Sara Wurfel
(517) 335-6397
wurfels@michigan.gov  

LANSING, Mich.- About 35,000 Michigan residents will continue receiving extended unemployment benefits under legislation signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The federal benefits would have ended April 1 because U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Michigan no longer met the criteria to remain in the extended benefits program. The Snyder administration asked for legislation to continue extended benefits through the end of the year.

"These benefits are a lifeline for many Michigan families who are struggling in this challenging economy," Snyder said. "Cutting them off so abruptly would have jeopardized the well-being of those who are trying hard to find work. Now that we have continued this safety net, we must renew our focus on improving Michigan's economic climate. We will continue driving forward with our job-creating reforms so that fewer people need to rely on unemployment benefits."

The new law temporarily changes the criteria to take into consideration an additional prior year of the state's unemployment rate. Using the additional year, Michigan once again meets the criteria. The extended benefits program provides up to 20 weeks of unemployment payments to those who exhaust their state and Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The weekly benefit amount equals what the individual received in state benefits.

"This bill keeps the program strong for those who need it," said state Rep. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, sponsor of House Bill 4408. "These long-term savings will protect the program and help lower the burden on taxpayers and job creators, as the Legislature looks down the road at long-term solutions to stimulate the economy and address the jobs crisis."

The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth is notifying affected residents that they will continue receiving their remaining 20 weeks of extended benefits. Claimants currently receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits will not be affected. Once they exhaust their emergency benefits they will be notified to apply for the extended benefits.

When a state no longer qualifies for extended benefits, federal law requires a three-week phase-out period after which no extended benefits can be paid. During the phase-out, any new extended benefit claims were charged 50 percent federal 50 percent state employer charges. Under Michigan's new law, these charges are eliminated. Any employer charged 50 percent during this period soon will receive credit.

Unemployed workers who have online accounts with the state Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) can check their benefit payment history for information about their remaining weeks of benefits. Workers who have not established online accounts can call Michigan's Automated Response Voice Interactive Network at 1-866-638-3993 and press option 2.

Additional information about extended benefits will be posted on the UIA website at www.michigan.gov/uia. In addition, people can call 1-866-MI-HELPS for recorded information about the extension program and their remaining benefits.

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