New numbers show what an impact Recovery Act unemployment and food stamp benefits have had here in Michigan. These numbers are particularly timely as unemployment and food assistance have been in the news.
There has been a lot of discussion, and concern, about unemployment benefits running out for 87,000 people in Michigan because Congress failed to extend them before the Fourth of July break. Recovery Act dollars have played a significant role in providing these benefits during a time of very high unemployment.
According to estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, unemployed workers in Michigan received over $1.9 billion in extended unemployment benefits, through May 28 of this year. Also, unemployed workers received an additional $25 a week through the Recovery Act, totaling almost $700 million, up to May 28.
The League’s Economic Security Bulletin reported this week that Food Assistance caseloads topped 850,000 for the first quarter of 2010. That number is a 27 percent increase over the same quarter in 2009. Almost 18 percent of Michigan residents live in households receiving Food Assistance.
Like unemployment benefits, food assistance benefits provided through the Recovery Act helped sustain Michigan families during rough economic times. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that people in Michigan received almost $500 million in additional Recovery Act food assistance benefits through May 28.
Not only have these benefits helped families, but they have helped the Michigan economy as well. It is well known that these benefits are quickly spent in local communities on food and other essentials.
To keep this economic stimulus flowing in Michigan, Congress needs to act to extend unemployment benefits. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency projects that more than 400,000 jobless workers will run out of benefits by the end of the year without that action.
Members of Congress will be home for the Fourth of July holiday, so if you have a chance, please let them know the importance of supporting extended unemployment benefits.
— Karen Holcomb-Merrill