Unemployed Michiganders may continue to receive up to $ 662 per week in unemployment benefits, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a Republican bill that sought to remove the additional $ 300 in weekly funding put in place by the federal government.
The $ 300 boost ends the week of September 4, although more than half of U.S. states have removed the benefits so far, in a bid to encourage people to fill jobs.
But Whitmer said in the veto letter that she was willing to cancel the benefits sooner if Republicans agreed to increase the typical weekly allowance from $ 362 to $ 422 and spend $ 1.4 billion to remedy the shortage of child care services.
Governors have the power to cancel the program on their own with 30 days’ notice, but Whitmer refused. The governor of Louisiana was the only Democratic governor to cancel federal unemployment benefits – the 25 other states to do so are led by Republicans.
Whitmer vetoed the bill on Tuesday, July 20, after sitting for four weeks after it was passed by the Michigan House and Senate.
“Ending these enhanced (unemployment insurance) benefits on July 31, as proposed by HB 4434, would drain $ 1.5 billion from our economy – money that would instead go into our local economies and support small businesses, ”Whitmer said in the letter.
The bill did not get enough votes in the legislature to go into effect immediately if approved by the governor. So even if Whitmer had signed it, the bill would not have come into effect until 2022, making it moot. Besides the additional $ 300, all other federal unemployment benefits also end in the first week of September.
Michigan fell below 500,000 weekly jobless claims on June 26 – the most recent week’s data for which data is available. This is the first time Michigan has had fewer than 500,000 claims since the start of the pandemic.
Almost 85% of claims are for temporary pandemic benefits from the federal government, with the remainder going to regular state unemployment.
Republicans and business owners criticized the additional unemployment benefits, saying they encouraged people not to work and caused a labor shortage. Democrats argue that companies have to pay more if they want to attract talent.
Michigan still has 300,000 fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels.
“Across the country, employers are struggling to find workers to meet their needs,” Whitmer said in the veto letter. “With our rapidly growing economy, many workers are leaving for higher paying jobs, leaving staffing challenges in their wake. “
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