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unemployment

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Michigan’s unemployment rate fell a half percentage point in May.

Michigan’s jobless rate fell to its lowest level last month since December of 2000 to 4.2%.  

“These numbers should encourage all Michiganders to continue to work hard and keep our foot on the gas,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a written statement. “We are moving forward on a great path toward our future.  The state's continued commitment to workforce development along with the lowest unemployment rate our state has seen in nearly 17 years proves that.”

Justice statue
Flickr user Jack / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency has settled a lawsuit over an automated claims processing system that falsely accused tens of thousands of people of fraud.

Between October 2013 and August 2015, the system kicked out more than 50,000 potential fraud cases. An initial state review of those cases found a 93% error rate. 

A lawsuit filed on behalf of the United Auto Workers union, Sugar Law Center and several individuals accused of fraud was dismissed Thursday under an agreement between the state and the plaintiffs.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A state official who's conducting a wide-ranging review of Michigan's embattled unemployment benefits office is apologizing for the fiasco that led at least 20,000 people to be falsely accused of fraud.

Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes adds that lawmakers should consider reducing the country's highest financial penalties for unemployment fraud.

She told The Associated Press that people affected are angry and she is, too. She says their plight "shouldn't have happened."

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Thousands in Michigan were wrongfully accused of unemployment fraud through the state's automated claims system. Now, the director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the long road to get things back in order at the UIA. They also talk about Gov. Snyder's emergency declaration in Macomb County and U.S. attorney Patrick Miles Jr.'s decision to step down from his post in Michigan's Western District.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

 

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The director of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned after at least 20,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud by the agency's automated system.

Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes said Thursday that UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey will now work on special projects.

Bruce Noll, TIA's legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the unemployment agency during a search for a new director to replace Moffett-Massey.

Between late 2013 and mid-2015, Michigan’s automated system for processing unemployment insurance claims flagged 53,633 cases of fraud.

But a new state review of some of those cases found that the system was wrong — 93% of the time.

That’s prompted U.S. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, to call for a full review of all the fraud cases auto-adjudicated during that period.

Flazingo Photos / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Laws that ban criminal background questions on job applications have backfired, according to a study from the University of Michigan and Princeton University.

So-called "Ban the Box" laws are meant to give job seekers with criminal records a better shot at finding employment.

The study suggests that while such policies may produce that outcome, they also increase racial discrimination by employers.

U of M researcher and study co-author Sonja Starr says this unintended outcome relates to a theory called "statistical discrimination."

Travis / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate has dropped to 4.7%. That’s the lowest it’s been in 15 years. 

 

The drop in the monthly rate was not due to more hiring, but to 6,000 people who gave up looking for work. Fewer people competing for job reduces the jobless rate.

 

But Governor Rick Snyder says the overall hiring trend for the state is good. He says the state’s workforce has grown by roughly 100,000 people since the beginning of the year in hopes of finding a job. 

 

The International Symbol of Access
wikimedia user Ltljltlj / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0 / Public Domain

The Next Idea

Each month, the State of Michigan releases unemployment numbers, which are seen as a major indicator of the state’s economic health. One subset of these numbers is often overlooked — the employment levels for people with disabilities.

Michigan and other states struggle with the challenge of employing people in this group. The discrepancy is significant. As of March 2016, the national unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 4.9%. For people with disabilities, it was more than double that figure. Perhaps even more indicative of the challenge is the gap in the labor force participation rate of nearly 69% for people without disabilities, and almost 20% for people with disabilities.

Blanche Jackson, right, with Rep. Sandy Levin. Jackson successfully appealed a finding of unemployment fraud, but the state still says she owes $4000.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, says the state needs to fix its “lawless” unemployment claims system, or risk losing federal money to administer the program.

The state switched to an automated claims processing system, the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (MiDAS), in 2013.

Since then, fraud claims have spiked. But many people say they’ve been falsely accused, and that the system for appealing is a nightmare.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new study finds there are many challenges to Detroit residents accessing job opportunities.

The report, Detroit’s Untapped Talent: Jobs and On-Ramps Needed, was commissioned by JP Morgan Chase and Company and was compiled by Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.

Jeannine La Prad helped prepare the report.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A special report looking at the progress, struggles, and failures in Detroit during the city’s first year out of bankruptcy:

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Royal Oak law firm is suing Michigan's Unemployment Agency for what it calls the illegal seizure of federal and state tax returns, and it expects thousands of people will join the lawsuit. 

The complaint, filed this week in civil court, takes aim at MiDAS, the automated system the state uses to determine whether someone has filed a fraudulent claim. 

The Michigan unemployment rate (red line) graphed with the overall labor force in Michigan (blue line).
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate dropped to 5.3% (the red line in the graph above). That’s the lowest it’s been in 14 years, and it matches the national average.

But the drop this month is due mostly to fewer people out looking for work.

More from the Michigan Department of Labor, Technology and Budget office press release:

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

State officials say Michigan’s unemployment computer system is saving money, streamlining the unemployment process, and rooting out unemployment fraud. It's called the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System, or MiDAS, and it's been handling unemployment claims in Michigan since 2013.

Rebecca Kruth

Unemployment fraud cases are on the rise in Michigan.

Advocates say the state’s automated unemployment insurance system is snagging innocent people for fraud without any human oversight.

Being wrongly accused of fraud can mean many months, lots of money and a hearing before an administrative judge to clear your name.

That's exactly what happened to George Patterson of Taylor, who saves everything.

“I’ve been accused of being a pack rat,” he said. “I have a lot of my paperwork from 10, 15 years ago.”

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

With unemployment down, U.S. car and truck sales up, and consumer sentiment indices up, all the traditional signs point to an improving economy.

So why is it that many of us aren't feeling this prosperity?

Tom Walsh dug into this question for the Detroit Free Press.

Courtesy of mitalent.org

The Next Idea

When the housing crisis hit in the mid-2000s, millions lost their jobs. Licensed home builder and Saginaw resident Jeff Little was one of them. 

Lawsuit: Michigan unemployment system wrongly fines claimants

Apr 22, 2015
Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A legal advocacy group is suing Michigan's Unemployment Agency for using an automated system to determine whether a user has filed a fraudulent claim.

The Sugar Law Center says the system accuses users of fraud, and slaps them with fines without any human oversight.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan businesses that hire unemployed veterans would be eligible for up to $4,000 in tax credits under recently proposed legislation.

The Hire MI Heroes Act is expected to be introduced as legislation in Michigan's House and Senate soon with bipartisan support.

Hart Plaza in Detroit.
Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Michigan’s rate of unemployment is down. Detroit’s is expected to continue to decline. However, Detroit’s rate is still about twice that of the state.

Michigan can expect “brisk” job growth at the start of 2015, according to a new report.

Twenty-five percent of Michigan employers tell Manpower they expect to hire new people during the first three months of 2015. Only Hawaii and North Dakota posted higher numbers.   

More and better jobs?

Oct 30, 2014

Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder has been vague about what he would do in the next four years in office, saying only, "We're on the road to recovery." He also says he'll pursue "more and better jobs." Political observers expect Snyder will continue on the path he's established, working to stimulate businesses while keeping a tight rein on state spending.

In an ad, Snyder says, "Our unemployment rate is the lowest in six years with nearly 300,000 new private-sector jobs." 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says workers can qualify for unemployment pay if they're fired for using medical marijuana.

  In a 3-0 decision Friday, the court ruled in favor of a hi-lo operator, a hospital employee and a furniture repairman. The court says there was no evidence that they used marijuana at work or that they had worked while under the influence of pot.

  Rick Braska, Jenine Kemp and Stephen Kudzia were fired after drug tests. All had medical marijuana cards. The use of marijuana to alleviate certain ailments was approved by voters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The job prospects for college graduates are improving.

A new Michigan State University study predicts a 16% increase in hiring of college students graduating during the 2014-15 academic year. For the past few years, the MSU study only predicted about a 2% to 4%  growth rate in college graduate hiring.

“We’re getting back to where we were in 2008 before everything turned down,” says Phil Gardner, the director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The latest "report card" on jobs in America points to a country continuing to recover from the Great Recession.

The national unemployment rate fell to 6.1%, the lowest level since September 2008. What does the June jobs report tell us about Michigan? Where have we made gains and where are we still hurting?

University of Michigan labor economist Don Grimes joined us to review the June employment numbers. 

Sheila Steele / Creative Commons

The unemployment rate in Grand Rapids is back where it was before the Great Recession.

But workers in Michigan’s second-largest labor market are making less money. Grand Rapids had the second-worst earnings decline of the top-100 labor markets in the country since 2001, down 6.6%. Only Detroit was worse at 7.2%.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state's unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month to 7.5% for the month of March 2014.

The unemployment rate is the measure of people who are out of work, but are counted as part of the overall labor force. The labor force is a measure of those folks who are actively looking for work in the last month. See my explanation of the rate here.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

In Michigan, 60.2% of people are in the labor force, according to a new state report.

The number is essentially unchanged from a year ago.

University of Michigan economist Don Grimes says at least 67% of Michigan's population should be in the labor force this many years after a recession.

He says people in their 20s, and people in their mid to late 50s, are having the most trouble finding work, both in Michigan and nationwide.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michigan business owners strongly oppose legislation to prevent them from including a question about criminal convictions on job applications.

88% of Michigan business owners polled by the National Federation of Independent Business say they oppose the ‘Ban the Box’ bill.

Charlie Owens is the NFIB state director. He says it doesn’t make sense to wait until a job offer is made before being able to do a criminal background check.

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