Governor expanding unemployment benefits to Michigan workers

Anticipating an economic fallout and further strain on personal finances for Michigan residents as efforts to thwart an expanding coronavirus spread, the governor is increasing unemployment benefits to workers.

After announcing temporary statewide closures to a multitude of businesses, Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. 

The executive order will go into effect immediately and will be broadened to:

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families,” said Whitmer in a statement. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.” 

The state will also be looking to help self-employed workers and independent contractors who don't have access to unemployment insurance. Those details include:

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days 
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended

Elidible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at or they can call at 1-866-500-0017.

Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations. 

On the heels of governor orders from Ohio and Illinois, Whitmer announced new restrictions on several kinds of businesses in Michigan to close or severely restrict crowds and foot traffic inside those establishments.   

RELATED: Details of Whitmer's bar, restaurant closure order released: gyms, theaters, other gathering places included

There will be additional unemployment resources for employees that can be found here and for workers here.

Whitmer is also working on additional solutions for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions enacted. Mirroring those benefits is a congressional legislation infusing $1 billion into the Small Business Administration to provide low-interest loans for relevant establishments, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits.