Lay Offs for Hundreds of State Unemployment Workers
At least 400 state unemployment insurance agency workers will be laid off over the next two months, joining the people they were hired to help. Video by fox47news.comvideo
Lansing's unemployment rate increased 0.7 percent to 8.4 percent in the last month, while the state rose to 9 percent. Those numbers could go up even more when hundreds of state workers get pink slips at the end of the month.
At least 400 state unemployment insurance agency workers will be laid off over the next two months, joining the people they were hired to help.
That means longer lines for the people collecting unemployment benefits now. Richard Duvall depends on Unemployment Insurance Agencies, and he said they're already understaffed enough.
"It's like McDonalds," Duvall said about the unemployment insurance agency office on Cedar Street in Lansing. "There are five counters, but one person working at the counter."
The situation is only going to get worse when 177 temporary unemployment insurance agency workers lose their jobs by the end of August.
"You're going to have the same people that were helping individuals who are unemployed on the other side of the counter, and that's a cruel irony," said Ray Holman, legislative liaison for UAW Local 6000, the state workers union.
The state said the lay offs are a sign of an improved economy. They're down to 187,000 claims of July this year, a decreased from the peak of 537,000 claims in June 2009. That's when the term-limited employees were hired. They stayed for three years instead of the intended six months.
"Both the temporary workers and our permanent employees deserve an opportunity to work for the state of Michigan," Holman said. "I mean, let's think about it. The state's invested in their training. We need more workers, not less."
Duvall feels the same way. He waited two hours to speak with someone in the unemployment insurance agency office.
"There's not enough people in there right now to just deal with 10 people," Duvall said. "How am I supposed to pay my bills or how am I supposed to survive? I got a family."
The UIA public information officer recommends people start an online account through the agency's website to lessen the impact of the lay offs. Many common questions can be answered there, rather than having to fight crowds in an office.
Duvall said he prefers the face-to-face communication, and there might be a bright side to the lay offs.
"It's going to make them see what we're going through out there, why people are getting evicted from their homes and things like that right now, because they're not getting their benefits, and it takes eight weeks to find out what goes on with it," Duvall said.
Up to 225 permanent workers will be let go by the end of September. The lay offs will bring the total number of Unemployment Insurance Agency workers for the state from about 1,200 to 800.