Cancel additional $ 300, federal unemployment programs, urges Michigan business group

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As employers struggle to find workers, Michigan could help make matters easier by waiving the extra $ 300 in unemployment benefits and getting rid of federal unemployment programs, according to a group of state companies.

At least four states have already decided to stop accepting federal unemployment benefits from mid-June to the end of June – Montana, South Carolina, North Dakota and Iowa.

Michigan should join them, says the Michigan branch of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“There are just too many jobs and too many people who have no incentive to take them,” said Charles Owens, director of the NFIB in Michigan.

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Nationally, 44% of small business owners say they have vacancies they can’t fill, NFIB says survey of 10,000 business leaders. The numbers are likely even higher in Michigan, Owens said.

Michigan is currently offering up to $ 662 a week to the unemployed, thanks to an additional $ 300 in benefits from the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout. The additional $ 300 and federal unemployment programs – including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Emergency Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program – do not expire until September.

Owens expects Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to want Michigan to keep additional unemployment programs in place until September, but hopes at least to spark a conversation for change.

A representative from Whitmer’s office referred questions about its position on the matter to a representative from the Unemployment Insurance Agency, who said there were no plans to end federal programs sooner.

Michigan only offers 20 weeks of state unemployment and both concert workers and the self-employed are not eligible. Federal unemployment offers dozens of weeks of benefits to people who do not qualify for state unemployment.

Canceling the PUA and PEUC programs would throw more than half a million Michiganders out of work. As of the week of April 10, Michigan had about 860,000 unemployed federally and about 100,000 unemployed in the state.

But there are plenty of jobs to be filled for these people, Owens said. The hospitality industry needs people if it is to cope with the summer tourism rush, he said.

“We’re a big tourism state and the hospitality industry is just in a big, big panic, as they should be,” Owens said.

Another potential solution lies in a proposal submitted to the Michigan legislature – which give people $ 1,000 to find a job or go back to their old job and get out of unemployment. Bill 4420’s $ 400 million plan would be enough money to give 400,000 people the $ 1,000 bonus.

Detroit Regional Chamber promotes plan that would give $ 2,000 in hiring bonuses and spend $ 150 million in stimulus funds to replenish Michigan’s employer-funded unemployment trust fund.

“It’s a carrot and stick approach,” Owens said. “It’s not just about cutting everyone off.

Now is the time to create policies to get people back to work, Owens said, as vaccines are widely available and the number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan has dropped dramatically after a spring surge. However, Michigan still leads the country in the number of new cases per person.

“We’re turning the corner,” Owens said. “We need to have people who can re-enter the workforce or this economic recovery is just going to run out of gas because there will be no one to work.”

Opponents say pandemic shutdowns have given restaurant workers the opportunity to reassess their career paths – many have found different jobs or started their own businesses to escape the low wages, long hours and harsh conditions that come with concerts in restaurants.

Unemployment money gives low-wage workers leverage. If the employers are fair, the workers will come, President Joe Biden said on Monday.

“I expect that as our economy recovers, these companies will provide fair wages and safe working environments,” Biden said. “And if they do, they’ll find a lot of workers and we’re all going to do better than before.”

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