It’s true; the start of a new year is symbolic of a clean slate to shape a new reality with the fabric of our daily lives.
Many Americans will start the new year with a renewed focus on physical fitness, while others will attempt get their personal finances in order. While some of us will chase the American dream of home ownership by taking advantage of near record low interest rates, others will simply attempt to find adequate employment.
A recent bill signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder threatens to cut unemployment benefits for jobless citizens who have been unsuccessfully seeking employment for longer than 10 weeks.
On one hand, this new law allows Michigan employers to save money on unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation.
On the other hand, the law (signed by Snyder in December 2011) will force more than 400,000 unemployed workers to take low-wage jobs (after 10 weeks of benefits), regardless of the amount of income or type of work they did before they became unemployed. Pair that with the fact that earlier laws already cut the time that a jobless citizen can claim unemployment benefits from 26 down to 20 weeks (starting this month), and it’s fairly easy to understand why Michigan is one of only three states that have lost population since the release of the 2010 census. The others are Rhode Island and Maine.
In 2011, the number of unemployed citizens in Michigan fell by more than 51,600 claims (-1.1 percent). While this may seem like progress, a likely factor leading to the decline in jobless claims may be the fact that the population in Michigan has declined in the past year also.
Unemployment benefits assist not only jobless citizens; these benefits are also the primary source of income for workers injured on the job. This new law complicates the efforts of injured workers attempting to rehab to get back to work. In actuality, this new law informs these injured workers to heal up in 10 weeks, or else.
In defense of the new law, Governor Snyder said, ”It’s to encourage people to work. It’s not to have them go backward.”
Yet, going backward to the time period before unemployment benefits existed is not very encouraging at all.