Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Cavitt: Unemployment expansion will drive people further into poverty
RELEASE|June 26, 2024
Contact: Cam Cavitt

State Rep. Cam Cavitt on Wednesday voted against a plan to increase the maximum number of weeks a person can receive unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks. House Bill 5827, which ultimately passed along party lines, comes as Michigan’s unemployment rate has been under 4% for more than four months.

“You’d have to be driving with your eyes closed to not see help wanted signs in the windows of every business from here to Cheboygan,” said Cavitt, R-Cheboygan. “But Democrats have been driving blind for 18 months, so I’m not sure why anyone would expect that to change now. This bill does nothing more than force taxpayers and small businesses to pay unemployment salaries for people who are choosing to sit at home for 6 months.”

Republicans noted that the plan further disincentivizes the unemployed from quickly finding a new job, especially considering Michigan’s low unemployment rate has led to a higher availability of open positions. The 20-week benefit limitation was implemented due to problems within the Unemployment Insurance Agency system that resulted in debt and high costs. The plan will also burden employers with increased costs as former employees can draw benefits for even longer.

“We’re not talking about the hard-working people who are laid off, take a few days, and then start sending resumes out. Those people are normally back to work in a matter of weeks,” Cavitt said. “This bill ensures that the people who refused to proactively look for a job can put off the search for even longer as they enjoy an extended taxpayer-funded vacation.”

Michigan ranks only 39th among other states in labor force participation. Michigan had 261,000 job openings in January while reporting fewer than 200,000 active job seekers. Republicans questioned why unemployment benefits should be expanded when Michigan boasts more available jobs than people looking to fill them.

“We want everyone to have a quality job that allows them to support themselves and their families,” Cavitt said. “Expanding these benefits allows already impoverished people to become even more reliant on state-funded benefits. Instead of expanding these benefits, we should be addressing the economic failures in our state that led to their job loss in the first place.”

The plan now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.


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