Governor Signs Legislation Extending Jobless Benefits

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

For thousands of Michigan's unemployed, they're just getting by on their benefits.

"It's enough to get groceries in the house and some bills paid," said Steele Sherman who will soon be receiving unemployment.

And now new legislation signed by Gov. Granholm Monday will extend that window of time that tides the jobless over from 13 weeks to 20 weeks.

"That means on average the extended unemployment benefits plus the state and federal benefits can take somebody through unemployment for up to 79 weeks," said Gov. Granholm.

More than a year of extended benefits to bank on for new and existing claims; the additional weeks are being funded by the federal Recovery Act says Granholm -- a necessity, says unemployment officials, when they're set to be slammed with nearly 70,000 extended benefits claims this month.

"During the month of April we are expecting tens of thousands of people to exhaust what is known as the Emergency Unemployment Compensation under federal law and roll into the extended benefits program," said Stephen Geskey of the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

With unemployment offices overloaded with jobless claims, state officials say the legislation comes right on time for Michigan workers and the state.

"We've hired several hundreds of people in an attempt to better serve the unemployed workers, hiring several hundred workers comes with a substantial price tag and so this money will go along way," Geskey said.

And those in the unemployment line say the extension is a lifeline.

"A lot of people out there need those extra seven weeks to find something or figure out what's going on," said Steve Allen, who is receiving unemployment benefits.

"It would definitely give us more time to find a better job ,or a job that would provide instead of just sitting on unemployment and doing nothing," Sherman said.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency says the amount they receive from the federal government depends on the number of people who use the extension, and for how long.


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