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Proposed plan would give some people a $300 weekly bonus to go back to work

6/15/21

WXYZ Detroit 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is offering federal funding to motivate jobless Michiganders to get back into the workforce.

The proposed plan will give a $300 a week bonus to specific employees who were laid off during the pandemic. It uses federal unemployment money to pay for the incentive.

It would be available to workers brought back by employers participating in the state’s work-share program through Sept. 4.

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce is on board with the idea, whatever it takes to make the state’s workforce thrive once again.

“We think anything that is going to expand our workforce is really going to help businesses get people back on the job and provide the level of services their customers have come to expect over the years,” Brad Williams, the VP of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber said.

According to Williams, the state’s workforce is about 11% smaller now compared to the start of the pandemic, partly because of people on unemployment, but also because of people deciding to leave the workforce altogether.

“Sometimes it’s because of health reasons, sometimes it’s because of pay and benefits and sometimes it’s because of daycare costs,” he said. “When you talk about labor shortages, the reasons are complicated and the solutions are complicated”

Williams believes the bonus proposed by the Whitmer administration to entice specific workers back to work is well worth it.

“We’re going to use the federal $300 dollars per week in unemployment benefits to our advantage so we can incentivize people to get back to work, maximize families’ income, and help employers fully build up their businesses and staff up,” he said.

At this point, the incentive will only be offered to eligible returning employees and the payments are only available to employers who are part of the state’s work-share program.

Williams said an incentive for new hires would also be useful.

“The legislature knows that businesses are clamoring for talent. They’re hearing it when they go home and we’re gonna continue to talk to them about why incentive programs like this are important,” Williams said.

Whitmer said she hopes to work with the state legislature to expand the incentive to businesses hiring new workers as well.

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