Michigan House Democrats renew call to expand jobless benefits

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the pandemic nears its ninth month in Michigan, concerns about the fragile economy are heightened by a recent spike in unemployment claims, with many businesses closed until at least Dec. 9.

Monday, Michigan House Democrats will renew calls to expand unemployment protections without delay to address what they’re calling an “urgent need,” especially among small businesses.

Like many small businesses, Grand Rapids’ Brewery Vivant has done its best to roll with the punches of the pandemic. Bars and restaurants went from closing and shutting down dining areas in March to reopening in June. A series of restrictions and closures followed over the summer and fall months, including the latest three-week indoor dining ban, all of which have left employees and owners struggling to stay afloat.

Brewery Vivant co-owner Kris Spaulding says she’ll speak for many small business owners Monday when she says their needs are dire.

According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Michigan finished the third quarter of 2020 with an unemployment rate of 8.6% — 11.4% below the state’s jobless rate during the second quarter. The U.S. Bureau of Labor says Michigan was rebounding in October, with 266,400 people unemployed.

The data reflected people recalled to their jobs after the substantial pandemic-related layoffs. in April. Now many find themselves facing circumstances similar to those in April, with business paused again.

Michigan House Democrats Rep. Donna Lasinski of Scio Township and Rep. Terry Sabo of Muskegon will join workers’ rights advocate Rachael Kohl and Spaulding at a virtual news conference Monday to highlight the urgent need to increase and expand unemployment benefits for jobless Michiganders.

The tough winter season for businesses is one reason Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants state legislators to approve a $100 million COVID-19 relief plan when they return to session next month.

The virtual meeting starts at 2:30 p.m. Stay with woodtv.com and News 8 for updates throughout the day.

  

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