7/21/21 - Michigan will continue with unemployment benefits

Governor Whitmer - file photo

Whitmer vetoes Republican plan to end extra $300 of unemployment

(Mlive) - Michiganders on unemployment can keep getting up to $662 per week of unemployment benefits, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a Republican bill that aimed to axe the extra $300 of weekly funding put up by the feds.

The $300 boost ends the week of Sept. 4, although more than half of the states in the U.S. have nixed the benefits so far, with the goal of encouraging people to fill jobs.

But Whitmer said in the veto letter she’s open to canceling the benefits early if Republicans agree to raising the typical $362 weekly benefit to $422 and spending $1.4 billion to address the child care shortage.

Governors have the power to cancel the program on their own with 30 days notice, but Whitmer declined. Louisiana’s governor was the only Democratic governor to cancel federal unemployment benefits – the other 25 states to do it are led by Republicans.

Whitmer vetoed the bill on Tuesday, July 20, after sitting on it for four weeks after it passed the Michigan House and Senate.

“Ending these enhanced (unemployment insurance) benefits on July 31, as proposed by HB 4434, would drain $1.5 billion from our economy – money that will instead flow into our local economies and support small businesses,” Whitmer said in the letter.

The bill didn’t get enough votes in the Legislature to be able to take immediate effect if approved by the governor. So even if Whitmer would have signed it, the bill wouldn’t have taken effect until 2022 – making it moot. Besides the extra $300, all other federal unemployment benefits also end the first week in September.

Michigan dipped under 500,000 weekly unemployment claims on June 26 – the most recent week data for which data is available. It’s the first time Michigan has had less than 500,000 claims since the pandemic started.

Nearly 85% of the claims are for the temporary pandemic benefits from the feds, with the remaining being for regular state unemployment.

Republicans and business owners have criticized the extra unemployment benefits, saying it encourages people not to work and causing a labor shortage. Democrats counter that businesses need to pay more if they want to attract talent.

Michigan is still 300,000 jobs shy of pre-pandemic levels.


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