Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency set to layoff 432 employees

Sep 18, 2012

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency will lay off over 400 employees, according to the Detroit News.

The department will lay off 255 permanent full-time employees Oct. 1, on the heels of the Aug. 31 layoffs of 177 part-time temporary workers who were brought in to relieve congestion at the height of the recession. The staffing moves leave about 800 employees with the agency, including about 100 answering phones at the agency's Lansing Call Center.

According to the News, the jobs were covered by federal unemployment funds. As Michigan's jobless rate has decreased, so has the agency's need for supplemental employees.  Spokesman Chawn Greene-Farmer is quoted saying that the 432 layoffs will save about $35 million annually.

But critics of the agency say that service is bad enough as it is.

Kenneth Hreha, 55, of Dryden said he worked more than two years as an unemployment insurance examiner before he was laid off Aug. 31. He said his own claim was delayed because he couldn't get through on the phones. He called 15 times before anybody answered, he said.

"Governor Snyder called taxpayers (the state's) customers,"Hreha said. "When I call Consumers Power, I don't have to call 15 times."

The Detroit News reports that fewer than ten percent of the more than one million calls to the agency's customer service lines in August were answered.

In June, Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reported on citizens dissatisfaction with The Michigan Unemployment Agency's automated response system, MARVIN.

Since then, the agency has reported that it will be getting a $69 million upgrade for it's phone and computer system.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom