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Michigan unemployment website 'experiencing very heavy volumes of traffic'

 The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. (WJRT)
Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 11:30 AM EDT
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(4/13/2020) - On the day when thousands more Michigan workers became eligible to apply for unemployment benefits, the state's website was "experiencing very heavy volumes of traffic."

Many workers hoping to apply for unemployment benefits complained that they couldn't log into the Michigan Web Account Manager, where online claims for benefits are filed.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity asked some unemployed workers to delay filing their claims to relieve stress on the system.

"We know newly eligible workers are eager to get benefits," the department posted on Twitter.

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The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency began processing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims at 8 a.m. Monday. Funding is coming from the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act.

The new benefits beginning Monday are geared toward self-employed workers, gig workers and independent contractors who are off the job due to coronavirus.

State officials asked unemployed workers to abide by the schedules released in March for sending an application for benefits.

The schedule for filing online is:

-- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for anyone with a last name starting with letters A to L.

-- Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for anyone with a last name starting with letters M to Z.

-- Saturdays for anyone who could not file on one of their allotted days.

The schedule to file by phone at 1-866-500-0017 is:

-- Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for anyone with a last name starting with letters A to L.

-- Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for anyone with a last name starting with letters M to Z.

-- Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for anyone who could not file on one of their allotted days.

More than 1 million Michigan workers had filed for unemployment benefits by Monday, representing at 10% of the state's entire population. That includes 800,000 over the past three weeks and 200,000 more over the past four days.

Michigan's number of unemployment filings was second only to California, which has four times the population.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency usually staffs about 130 workers in its call center. That number more than doubled to 300 by March 30 and quadrupled to 500 by the end of last week.

"We’re committed to helping every eligible Michigan worker file and receive benefits," the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity posted on Twitter. "The men and women of UIA are working around the clock to deal with the unprecedented economic pain caused by COVID-19."

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