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Michigan Gov. Snyder reduces unemployment benefits while calling them a ‘lifeline’ for families

Gov. Rick Snyder tried to put a positive spin on the new Michigan law that reduces the length of state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks — the lowest in the nation.

As he signed the bill into law this week he focused on a provision that will allow those who receive extended unemployment benefits through the federal government to continue receiving them through the end of the year.

“These benefits are a lifeline for many Michigan families who are struggling in this challenging economy,” Snyder said. “Cutting them off so abruptly would have jeopardized the well-being of those who are trying hard to find work. Now that we have continued this safety net, we must renew our focus on improving Michigan’s economic climate.”

According to the governor’s office 35,000 residents will continue receiving extended unemployment benefits under the legislation.

Snyder made no mention of the fact that the new law makes Michigan the only state where, starting next year, jobless people will only have access to the ‘lifeline’ of unemployment benefits for 20 weeks.

“We have a temporary change to help some jobless workers that is imposing an indefinite or permanent cost on future jobless workers,” Rick McHugh, a staff lawyer for the National Employment Law Project, told the New York Times. “And that does seem doubly unfair when the temporary help for current jobless workers is almost totally paid for by the federal government.”

The Times reports that the cut came as a surprise to advocates for the unemployed because it was slipped into a bill that was promoted as a way to preserve benefits.

Michigan’s current official unemployment rate is 10.4 percent.

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