Michigan: 92% of eligible unemployment claims have been paid

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

About 92% of eligible unemployment claimants in Michigan have received part of the $5.6 billion in unemployment paid between March 15 and May 13, according to the state government. 

State residents have filed 1,717,555 million unemployment claims in that time period, about 64,000 of which were deemed ineligible. 

Of the remaining 1,653,541 eligible claims, 1,374,751 have begun receiving benefits and 144,660 are eligible for certification. 

The state warned its unemployment claim numbers may differ from those the U.S. Department of Labor plans to release Thursday because the state data includes newly eligible claimants for federal aid under the CARES Act. Those have not yet been included in U.S. Department of Labor statistics. 

While the increased number of individuals receiving benefits is positive news, the agency's work is far from over, said Jeff Donofrio, director for the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

"We are still so focused on those individuals who have been caught up in the system, they have some kind of issue," Donofrio said. 

The difference in federal and state unemployment figures reflects the state's determination to get federal benefits to residents more quickly, he said.

"Certainly we submit all these numbers to DOL," Donofrio said, "but they’re not reporting them the same way.”

Because the state is processing more claims from people newly eligible under the CARES Act, it is likely the state's unemployment rate released Monday will be more reflective of the actual state of unemployment in Michigan, he said.

The majority of the $5.6 billion paid out to Michigan residents since March 15 has involved federal funds, he said.

The state pays its share of unemployment benefits out of a trust fund that totaled $4.6 billion at the start of the pandemic. The total at the end of April stood at $4.1 billion, but changes in employment figures and federal help on a weekly basis make it difficult to estimate how long that fund will last, Donofrio said. 

"Every time we get new variables or a different set of the economy reengaging that changes the trust fund estimates,” he said.