by Scott McClallen
More than 55,000 Michiganders filed unemployment claims between Monday and Wednesday, according to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).
LEO spokesperson Erica Quealy told The Center Square the number represents a 1,500 percent increase over the normal amount for this time of year.
On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down dining-in at restaurants and shuttered bars and other small businesses through March 30 in an attempt to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association CEO Justin Winslow said earlier this week that the industry employing about 600,000 people will be “decimated” over the next few weeks.
The state and the federal government have taken steps to cushion the blow to businesses and workers.
Whitmer signed an executive order to temporarily extend unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks and suspend in-person registration and work-search requirements.
“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families.”
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board on Thursday approved up to $20 million in grants and business loans estimated to inject liquidity into at least 1,100 small businesses that were shuttered.
Also, the U.S. Small Business Administration on Thursday made available up to $2 million in disaster loans to each small business and private nonprofit in the state.
Those loans can pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills impacted from COVID-19.
Businesses can apply here.
Even after the state lifts the blanket ban on most businesses, those near Michigan State University will have to survive the summer without revenue from many of the nearly 50,000 students who left campus as the university switched to online-only classes for the remainder of the semester, as did colleges around the country.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Michigan Works” by The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.