Hardworking Michiganders Recovery Plan increases weekly unemployment benefit, extends benefits to 26 weeks, among other reforms 

LANSING — Michigan House and Senate Democrats today unveiled the Hardworking Michiganders Recovery Plan, a package that will immediately put more money in the pockets of Michigan’s working families and help make sure no worker is left behind during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Twp., said unemployed Michiganders need help now more than ever, and that the Hardworking Michiganders Recovery Plan package takes significant steps toward providing much-needed relief to working families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has cost people their lives and their jobs across the country and around the world, including in Michigan, where workers in every community have been negatively impacted,” Lasinski said. “The Hardworking Michiganders Recovery Plan puts more money into the pockets of our hardworking Michiganders as we continue to face the many financial challenges posed by the pandemic.”

Specifics of the bills include:

  • Increase the weekly maximum for unemployment benefits from $362 to $593, and one year later restores indexing this figure to 58% of the state average weekly wage annually.
  • Restore the number of benefit weeks from 20 weeks to 26 weeks, reversing the reduction to 20 weeks passed by legislative Republicans in 2012.
  • Increase what unemployed workers who don’t qualify for the weekly maximum unemployment benefit receive from 4.1% to 6.1% of their highest quarter earnings.

“This plan will begin to update weekly benefits to 2020 levels,” said Rep. Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon, a lead sponsor of the legislation. “This will help workers to pay for household bills and fix eligibility problems caused by COVID-19 so they can receive the earned benefits as fast possible.”

“While unemployment claims have declined, there are still nearly 1 million residents out of work across Michigan, and many businesses have closed down temporarily — and in some cases permanently — to help slow the spread of the virus,” said Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, who is sponsoring the legislation.  “Our plan helps revive Michigan’s economy and gives workers a leg-up at a time it’s needed most.”

“Legislative Democrats have long championed efforts to assist Michigan’s workers. In 2012, legislative Republicans reduced the number of weeks for unemployed workers to receive benefits harming every worker eligible for unemployment. Now, as an economic side-effect of the pandemic, too many workers are now feeling the effects of that draconian measure from 2012,” said Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, who is sponsoring the legislation. “That move by legislative Republicans showed their disregard and contempt for unemployed people. Far too many people are figuring out how to put food on the table and how to pay the bills — all while looking for a new job. This bill helps correct the existing unjust law and provides help to those who need it most.”

“Businesses owners expect the money we pay into the state’s unemployment system to support unemployed workers,” said Alysha Lach White, founder and CEO of Little Space Studio in Grand Rapids. “The truth is, our current unemployment system fails to provide that safety net, and this plan helps provide real relief for hardworking Michiganders and small businesses until we are past this public health crisis.”