LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan has applied for federal funding to provide an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic — less than the $600 boost that expired last month but still more than the maximum $362 weekly payment the state dispenses.
President Donald Trump this month signed an order extending the added weekly benefit after he and Congress were unable to agree to a broader new pandemic relief plan. States can choose a $300- or $400-a-week option, though they would have to chip in $100 toward the higher amount.
“This program will provide some much needed support for families that are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills, but it’s a short term Band-Aid that falls short of what’s needed,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday. “A robust congressional recovery package that meets the scale of this crisis is what’s needed to help individuals who have lost work as a result of the pandemic get through this unprecedented time.”
The state Unemployment Insurance Agency estimated that about 910,000 residents will get the extra $300. They will be paid retroactively to Aug. 1. It was unclear when the payments will begin or how many weeks they will cover.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said the additional funding may last roughly five or six weeks depending on how many states participate. Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.7% in July, from 14.8% in June, and was below the national rate of 10.2%. About 103,000 payroll jobs were added.
Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said the state in three months has recovered about half of the 1 million jobs that were cut due to the pandemic in March and April.
Michigan’s unemployment insurance trust fund, which is funded by employer taxes and had $4.6 billion before the virus outbreak, is now at $1.7 billion following months of record-high claims.