LANSING — Nearly 385,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in Michigan last week amid continued punishing economic consequences of the new coronavirus pandemic — the third straight week of historically high claims.
More than 817,000 sought jobless benefits over the past three weeks. The state’s 3.6% unemployment rate will skyrocket when monthly employment reports are released in May and June.
The state has been overwhelmed by a flood of applications, and some of those out of work have had trouble applying online or by phone.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency is adding staff — nearly quadrupling the call center workforce to 500 total by the end of this week — and expanding call center hours.
“The third straight week of record unemployment claims shows the deep impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Michigan working families,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “We’re committed to making sure every eligible Michigander receives their full unemployment benefits during this crisis. The only way we’ll be able to turn the corner economically is to slow and stop the transmission of this virus.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday is expected to lengthen a stay-at-home order that is due to expire early next week.