Michigan to reinstate work-search requirement for unemployment on Sunday

Posted at 5:54 AM, May 28, 2021

A major change is coming this weekend for those who are collecting unemployment benefits in Michigan.

Beginning Sunday, the state is reinstating its work-search requirement. It comes as U.S. jobless numbers hit a new pandemic low on Thursday, with claims falling to 406,000 wih the country's jobless rate at 6.1%, well above the 3.5% in March of last year.

While some states are withholding the extra $300 from the federal government, Michigan is not. Instead, you'll need to prove you are trying to find a job to continue to get benefits.

One expert said there are two big reasons people are giving for not returning to work right now, and the extra $300 isn't one of them.

"They don't have child care they don't have a place to go or someone to come and watch the kids so they can drive back to the office," Trisha Plovie from Robert Half Detroit said.

47% of Detroit-based workers voluntarily quit this year due to lack of childcare for their kids and 43% of Detroit workers had a shift in feelings about their career due to the pandemic.

While the extra $300 a week federal unemployment benefits boost may not be the reason for quitting, it does make quitting a bit easier.

Earlier this week, Florida became the 23rd state to announce that it's stopping the extra $300 per week payment to jobless citizens.

In Michigan, the federal supplement will continue if claimants can prove they are trying to find work by applying for a job or attending a job fair.

"When people confirm they are looking for work that could bring an influx of employees into the marketplace to take some of those jobs," Plovie said.

But the big news after a more than 15-month closure and a record number of claimants, the unemployment office finally plans to reopen in mid-July.

The state has paid out over $34 billion in claims to more than 3 million people since March 15, 2020.

At the peak in April 2020 - Michigan's unemployment rate was 22.7$%. In April of this year, it dropped to 4.9 percent.

But still, finding workers is tough.

"You don't want to lose great employees because it's so hard to find great people and hire them right now. You want to be able to retain them," she said.

Plovie says communication is key

"It would go far from an employee retention standpoint if managers took the stand to talk to their employees and find out what is on their minds," she said. "Where do they see themselves in a year from now? Where do they seem themselves 5 years from now?"