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State on right track in getting jobless claims processed

Although the wheels of government turn slowly, they apparently do turn. At least that’s what happening in the case of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Recently in this space, we joined state Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, in urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen UIA offices across the state, shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We cited, among other things, the horror stories about getting rulings on jobless cases. With historic numbers of affected workers filing for state and federal unemployment benefits, a backlog of equally historic proportions developed, inflicting even more pain and misery.

Although the offices remain closed for now, the state is adding hundreds of additional workers to help idled workers file claims. The stated goal is to clear thousands of backlogged cases filed prior to May 1.

And make no mistake, these people have been busy. According to a UIA press release, since March 15, 2.2 million eligible claimants have applied for state and federal benefits, with more than $14.3 billion in benefits paid to more than 2 million workers.

A total of 94.5% of eligible claimants have received or are approved for benefits.

But thousands remain mired in uncertainty. These new workers will hopefully help them get their paperwork filed.

It’s not a perfect solution by any means, but it’s a definite step in the right direction.

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