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Whitmer issues executive order to expand unemployment benefits

The executive order is the third expansion of unemployment benefits since the pandemic hit Michigan.
Credit: AP
In a pool photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Monday, March 30, 2020. The governor said she suspended state hiring and promotions and vetoed $80 million in new spending in order to steer money to fighting the coronavirus. At the same time, Whitmer said she signed laws with $150 million for the state's response. She said it's too early to know how the economic slowdown related to the virus will affect state revenue but the impact "is going to be real." (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool)

MICHIGAN, USA — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Wednesday evening expanding eligibility for unemployment benefits. 

According to her office, the order expands the state’s workshare program, offering more tools to employers to reduce layoffs. It also extends unemployment benefits to workers who voluntarily left a job after accepting new employment but were unable to start their new position due to the pandemic.   

“No one should have to worry about how to make ends meet during this unprecedented public health crisis” Whitmer said. “By extending eligibility for unemployment benefits, we can help give hard-working Michiganders some financial peace of mind as we continue flattening the COVID-19 curve across Michigan.”  

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The executive order is the third expansion of unemployment benefits since the pandemic hit Michigan. 

The governor's office said the order also does the following:

  •  Allows anyone with an active unemployment claim to receive up to 26 weeks of benefits 
  • Suspends the requirement for an individual seeking unemployment to request a registration and work search waiver from their employer 
  • Allows Unemployment Insurance Agency retirees to keep their retirement benefits if they return to work to process unemployment claims or serve on the Occupational Health and Safety Commission 
  • Expands cost-sharing with employers to reduce layoffs 

The Michigan Unemployment Agency said Thursday that it has provided an estimated 820,000 unemployed Michigan workers $1.37 billion in benefits. 

The U.S. Dept. of Labor released numbers on April 23 showing that 1,178,021 Michiganders have filed for unemployment since March 15, with 134,119 workers filing claims just last week.  

The vast majority of workers who have yet to receive benefits will receive payments shortly after they complete the federal requirement to certify their claim two weeks after filing.  

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