(FOX 2) - The number of Americans filing for unemployment surged to 3.28 million last week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That number broke the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982 and is well above the levels seen in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, the Labor Department said in its weekly report.
Like the rest of the country, Michigan’s workforce is experiencing unprecedented challenges. The state reported 108,710 unemployment claims were filed between Monday, March 16 and Friday, March 21. Normally, the state receives about 5,000 claims a week.
If you’re filing for unemployment for the first time, it can be stressful and confusing – especially if you’re competing with the masses to get through on the phone line or use the state’s website.
Here’s some information from the Unemployment Insurance Agency that may answer your questions before you get started.
WHO CAN FILE A CLAIM?
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order that expands eligibility for unemployment benefits in the state during the coronavirus emergency.
Under the governor’s order, unemployment benefits are extended 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.
The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance.
HOW DO I FILE A CLAIM?
To file a claim you have two options: by phone or online.
To call: 1-866-500-0017 and press 1 “to inquire about and to file a claim”
Online: Michigan.gov/uia using the MiWAM portal
The UIA is asking everyone to please file their claim online if possible for the fastest service. The phone line has been over capacity at times this week, resulting in busy signals for some callers. The website is open 24 hours a day.
Also, if possible, it’s recommended to use the website during off-hours from 8 p.m. – 8 a.m.
The website has been operating slowly during peak hours and may take several minutes for a page to load. The UIA does want you to know that while it may take longer for pages to load, the site is still operational and your patience is appreciated.
WHAT DO I NEED TO FILE?
Have these things ready to go when you file your claim:
- Social security number
- Employment information for the past 18 months, including employer name and address, first/last day worked and gross earnings
- Your address, phone number, date of birth
- Non-Citizens Alien registration and the expiration date of your work authorization card
- Driver’s License or State ID
HOW DO I GET PAID?
You can choose two options for your payment: direct deposit or a UIA Bank of America debit card.
But, in order to get paid, you must report that you are still unemployed by answering some questions every two weeks.
To make that report you can go online anytime through your MiWAM account, or call 1-866-500-0017.
The money posts within 2-3 business days from the date you report. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays are not considered a business day.
Normally, you’d also have to register for work and provide work search, but those are not required at this time.
WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
You can visit Michigan.gov/uia for more tools and resources that may answer your question.
If not, you can chat with an agent online in your MiWAM account or call at 1-866-500-0017.