A record 384,844 Michigan residents filed for unemployment benefits between March 29 and April 4, according to data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday.
The number passes up data from the previous two weeks, which saw 128,006 people file between March 15 and March 21 and 304,335 people file between March 22 and March 28. That brings the three-week total to 817,185 for those filing for unemployment benefits in the state.
The state has seen a dramatic rise in those filing for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state. Nationally, 6.6 million people filed for unemployment claims last week.
“We’re committed to making sure every eligible Michigander receives their full unemployment benefits during this crisis,” Jeff Donofrio said, director for the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, told The Detroit News. “The only way we’ll be able to turn the corner economically is to slow and stop the transmission of this virus.”
The numbers are a “shocking 16.5% of the state’s labor force,” the Anderson Economic Group told The Detroit News.
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency recently added staff and additional hours to help meet the increase in filing of unemployment claims, it announced earlier this week. It extended its hours to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and will remain open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The agency also said that it has nearly quadrupled staffing levels, estimating that 500 employees will be added to the call center by the end of the week.
“Thank you to Michigan’s working families for their patience as the UIA continues to provide emergency financial assistance during this unprecedent increase in unemployment claims,” said Donofrio in a statement. “We continue to ramp up our services to make sure every eligible Michigander receives their benefits as quickly as possible and we’re asking workers to please reserve the phone lines for those who cannot go online or are having trouble with their account.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]