U.S. & Michigan Unemployment Numbers Continue Upward Trend

Unemployment numbers across the country continue to skyrocket.

The Labor Department said Thursday another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment this week.

In Michigan, an estimated 820,000 people have received $1.3 billion in unemployment benefits.

The news comes the same day congress worked to pass a more than $300 billion spending bill to put money back in the paycheck protection program.

Congressman Jack Bergman says that money is critical for small businesses, especially here in northern Michigan.

“In Michigan, the vast majority and around the country, and in Michigan the vast majority of these loans have been to small businesses not to big businesses, but 75 percent are small businesses and now we’re targeting even more the smaller of the small businesses to make sure they have an equitable access to the funds through the banks,” said Bergman.

Congress was also working to approve billions for coronavirus testing, the small business administration, hospitals and healthcare providers.

In Michigan, more than 134,000 people filed an unemployment claim last week.

And some say, they’re still waiting to see those benefits.

Charlie Kirts worked as a line cook at the Bellaire Bar before his job was one of the millions lost across the country. He says he was able to apply for unemployment benefits, but is still waiting for them to come through.

“You call in, you can’t get through and if you do get in, you get put on hold or dropped after three and a half hours of being on hold, that’s happened to me about seven times. I’ve called every day for five and a half weeks trying to get through to them to be put on hold and to be hung up on,” said Charlie.

Jason Moon with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity says the state is doing what they can to keep up with unemployment claims.

“We’re just asking folks to remain patient, we’re going to get to everyone, we’ve added capacity, we’ve increased our call center hours, we’ve added hundreds of staff to deal with the customer facing programs we have,” said Moon.

Networks Northwest in Traverse City says they are working to connect people with open jobs in the area

“There are employers across our region, across northwest lower Michigan that have immediate job openings. They may be industries the individual is not familiar with or outside of their regular industry, but there are employment opportunities out there,” said Terry Vandercook, Chief Program Officer at Networks Northwest.

As for Charlie, he’s hoping the situation with Michigan’s unemployment office gets resolved.

“I’m just looking for answers and I don’t want other people to go through what I’ve been going through because it’s misery, it’s pure misery,” said Kirts.

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