With state restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the economic fallout on local businesses and their workers is only beginning to come into focus.
The state reported 108,710 unemployment claims were filed between Monday and Friday last week, just days after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered dine-in restaurants and bars closed.
Normally, the state receives about 5,000 claims a week.
"We understand that COVID-19 has caused economic harm to our workers as sacrifices are made to protect all of our residents," said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity in a release sent Sunday.
While it was unclear when the state would feel the impacts of statewide restrictions, they were something Whitmer's team was planning for. That's why she signed an executive order last Monday that would expand unemployment benefits.
Under Executive Order 2020-10, benefits are expanded to include:
- Workers who are sick or quarantined and don't have access to paid family or medical leave or are laid off
- Workers caring for loved ones or have an unanticipated responsibility for family care, including those who have child care duties
- First responders or public health workers who have become ill or are quarantined due to exposure of COVID-19
“Even though we’ve seen an unprecedented need for emergency financial assistance, Michigan’s unemployment system, and its hardworking staff, continue to provide critical help online and over the phone," said Donofrio.
Other financial resources may be on the way to further buoy the state's economy. Days after the unemployment benefit order was signed, Whitmer announced the state's small businesses were eligible for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
You can learn more about those loans at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
The spike in claims being filed is a similar pattern that states are seeing around the country. To ease the burden, the Unemployment Insurance Agency has a $4.6 billion trust fund built up over the last decade to help out.
If you want to learn more about Michigan's unemployment benefits expansion, you can find more at michigan.gov/UIA or call (866) 500-0017