Michigan's federal pandemic jobless benefits to end Sept. 4

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Federal unemployment benefits will end next week for thousands of Michigan residents who received extra aid through federal, pandemic-specific programs. 

The programs ending Sept. 4 include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. 

PEUC offered an additional 53 weeks of benefits to those who had exhausted a state claim, while PUA provided benefits to people who usually didn't qualify for unemployment, such as self-employed or gig workers.

PUC added another $300 in federal aid to unemployment payments and MEUC added $100 week for people who earned at least $5,000 in net self-employment income. 

“We want to make sure Michiganders who have been receiving these temporary benefits are aware of other resources available to help them get back on their feet and find new employment opportunities," said Unemployment Insurance Agency Acting Director Liza Estlund Olson.

The state has paid out more than $38 billion in unemployment to more than 2.4 million Michigan residents since March 15, 2020 – much of those dollars through federal pandemic programs. As of Aug. 7, there were 160,681 continuing PUA claims in Michigan and 172,723 new PEUC claims filed in a week, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Republicans earlier this year passed legislation to end the federal unemployment benefits prior to Sept. 4, as several other states have done with the argument that people were not going back to work because of the additional benefits. Whitmer vetoed the legislation. 

Lawmakers in recent days also have warned against replacing the federal pandemic benefits with state money. 

“We say we want Michigan to return to normal, but having a program like this in place for so long has delayed our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," Rep. Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan, said in a Thursday statement. "Businesses throughout Michigan have struggled to find employees in part because of these bonus payments, and customers have been impacted through reduced hours at stores, restaurants and other workplaces.”

Under the current Sept. 4 deadline, protests, adjudications and pending eligibility determinations for federal benefits will continue past the deadline.

Residents still making claims should have received a new U.S. Bank debit card that will replace the Bank of America card formerly in use, the unemployment agency said in a statement. The old card should be kept for about a year for future reference. 

Claimants also should watch their MiWAM account for further correspondence, key information or possible signs of fraud. Suspected fraud should be reported to the agency hotline at (866) 500-0017.

People whose benefits end Sept. 4 should participate in job search or training programs, such as Pure Michigan Talent Connect, the Return to Work Play Book, or Michigan Works. 

“There are numerous free resources and programs available to support individuals in taking their next steps,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Employment and Training.