Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 7:45 AM EST
Unemployment extensions set to expire today
Miller expects legislators to extend jobless benefits
By Kate Hessling
Tribune Staff Writer
UPPER THUMB — It will be a blue Christmas for millions of Americans, including thousands of Thumb residents, if Congress does not pass legislation to extend current unemployment insurance provisions, which are set to expire today.
According to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, 45,033 Michigan residents will exhaust their unemployment benefits in December if Congress does not act. Of those, 2,024 are from the Thumb Michigan Works! Area, which includes Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac and Lapeer counties.
Nationwide, 60,000 unemployed Americans will exhaust their benefits this week and 2 million additional unemployed in the U.S. will exhaust their benefits in December, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Looking beyond next month, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency reported 6,432 unemployed individuals in the Thumb will exhaust their benefits between December and April 2011. Of those, at least 4,408 will be people who are not “99ers,” which are individuals who have received the maximum 99 weeks of benefits and are not eligible for benefits even if the emergency unemployment legislation is extended.
Because Congress has not passed legislation extending the federally-funded jobless benefits beyond their expiration date, Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency stopped taking and processing new claims for federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation on Saturday, according to an announcement last week from the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.
In last week’s announcement, Stephen Geskey, director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency, said his agency estimates 162,000 Michiganians already have exhausted their jobless benefits this year from January through November. Another 181,500 will exhaust their unemployment benefits from December through April 2011, if the federal funding is not extended.
According to the Michigan League for Human Services, the unemployment insurance system has helped many workers who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages while they search for new jobs. Eligible workers typically receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, but during periods of high unemployment, the federal government provides additional weeks of “emergency” benefits for people who are out of work for longer periods of time. If Congress does not continue the federal additional benefits currently in place, only 26 weeks of benefits will be available in Michigan.
The Michigan League for Human Services reports that at no time since World War II has Congress failed to extend emergency benefits while unemployment remained above 7.2 percent. As of October, national unemployment was 9.6 percent.
Prior to the Thanksgiving break, a bill containing a 90-day extension of federal unemployment benefits failed to reach the two-third votes necessary to pass in the House, as the bill lacked Republican support. While two House Republicans from Michigan — Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, of Livonia and Vern Ehlers, of Grand Rapids — voted for the extension, five House Republicans from Michigan voted against it, including 10th District U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who represents all of Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac and St. Clair counties, and most of northern Macomb County.
As many as 17,981 unemployed residents in the 10th District will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits between December and April 2011 if no extension is passed, according to the Michigan Unemployment Agency. Of those, about 13,400 are not “99ers.”