Unemployment benefits form
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Michigan’s April unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation second only to Nevada based on people declaring unemployment benefits. 

“Looking at something from a month ago gives you information about where you are and where you’re heading.”

Paul Isely, Associate Dean in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. He says the 22.7% unemployment rate was generated the week of April 12th. What does he expect when the numbers are calculated for May?

Unemployment benefits form
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s unemployment rate rocketed in April, likely setting an all-time high at 22.7%, as coronavirus restrictions shut down businesses and put people out of work, the state reported Wednesday.

April was the first full month of stay-home orders and business shutdowns. People have been urged to wear masks and avoid each other to reduce the spread of the virus.


Michigan lost more than a million jobs from March to April, largely due to COVID-19 related layoffs. That led to a record-setting 22-point-seven percent state unemployment rate.

That’s one in five workers without jobs. And that number does not reflect people who are employed but working reduced hours.

Jason Palmer directs the state Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. He says the job losses cut across all sectors of the economy, but especially manufacturing, retail, and hospitality.

Assembly line photo
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Are we in a long period of unemployment, or is there a lasting return to the workplace as the economy reboots? WGVU talks with Mike Wall is Director of Automotive Analysis at IHS Markit.

Michigan seal

Michigan says 31,000, or nearly two-thirds, of state employees will take temporary layoff days through late July as the state confronts a budget shortfall amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday the state will participate in a federal "work share" program. It lets employees work fewer hours but collect partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of lost wages. For many, the furloughs will be two layoff days per two-week pay period. They will start Sunday and go through July 25.

Dr. Paul Isely, 2020 Economic Forecast, DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, MI
Valerie Wojciechowski / gvsu.edu

The U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression, as 20.5 million jobs vanished in the worst monthly loss on record. What can be made of the data as some state’s begin reopening their economies and Michigan’s manufacturers come back online?

“The change from one month to the next month is mindboggling. The number of people who lost jobs between the beginning of March and April.”

  Nearly 69,000 people in Michigan filed initial claims for unemployment last week, bringing the state's seven-week total in the coronavirus pandemic to more than 1.3 million.

The number of new claims dropped for the fourth straight week — it hit 388,000 the week ending April 4 — but still approached the weekly high recorded in the Great Depression, according to federal data released Thursday. The state Unemployment Insurance Agency has said more than 1.1 million jobless have been paid benefits.


  Michigan whose inundated unemployment system saw 134,000 new filings last week, reported progress Thursday in processing claims and getting money out the door during the coronavirus pandemic.

Laptop photo

With roughly 640,000 Michiganders having filed for unemployment benefits, officials launched a new instructional video this week as frustrations with navigating the system continues to grow.

According to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, a number of people are in the dark and growing impatient with filing a claim, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly 1,000,000 Michiganders to be out of work.

Brian G. Long portrait

More than 800,000 Michiganders sought jobless benefits over the past three weeks. The closure of non-essential businesses limiting the spread of coronavirus is hitting the West Michigan economy hard as indicated by March Institute for Supply Management Research survey.

“The problem is, is we don’t know where the hole is right now, or how deep it is going to be, let alone start to figure out what it’s going to take to dig out of it.”