Over 25% of Michigan Workforce Filed For Unemployment


Michigan is one of the hardest hit states when it comes to Covid19 layoffs. Let's take a look at the stats.

Michigan Live reports Over 1 Million Michigan Residents Have Filed for Unemployment.

More than 1 million people - over a quarter of Michigan’s workforce - have filed for unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s top labor official said Monday.

Last week, Michigan reported more than 828,800 unemployment claims filed in the state from March 8 to April 4. Michigan’s pre-coronavirus record for new unemployment claims occurred during the Great Recession in January 2009, when there were 77,000 claims in a week.

Website Crashes

Also note Michigan unemployment website crashes again, delaying state update on expanded benefits.

In an embarrassing twist Monday morning, Michigan's unemployment website crashed — again — but this time just as the head of the state labor department was expected to outline how the state would apply benefits for self-employed workers.

Just hours earlier, the unemployment website announced "self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers can now apply for federal benefits online," but, when attempting to file, an error message popped up: "This site can’t be reached."

This is at least the second time the site has crashed since the coronavirus outbreak, as an overwhelming number of Michiganders attempt to file for benefits. More than a million claims — more than a quarter of the state's workforce — have been filed, the director said.

Michigan Labor Force

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The above table courtesy of the BLS. Numbers are in thousands except for the unemployment rate.

Crunching the New Unemployment Rate

1 million new + 180,000 existing / 4.95 million = 23.8%.

Unfortunately, the servers crashed from overload just yesterday. There is a new pool of eligible workers who need to file a claim but can't. There are likely hundreds of thousands more more yet to apply.

If we estimate 250,000 such claims, we can calculate as follows:

1 million new + 250,000 expanded + 180,000 existing / 4.95 million = 28.9%.

National Unemployment

Michigan provides strong evidence that my calculations of 20-22% national unemployment is in the ballpark, if not outright conservative.

I came up with those numbers two ways.

  1. April 9: 16.78 Million Unemployment Claims in Last 3 Weeks
  2. April 6: How High Will the Unemployment Rate Rise in April?

Judging from unemployment claims I came up with 20%.

On April 6, I looked at high risk areas including food and drinking pace employment and came up with 21-22%.

Click on the above links for details and assumptions.

Official Determination

Bear in mind that the official unemployment rate does not come from unemployment claims. Rather it comes from the Household Survey.

The reference period week for determining the unemployment rates is the week that that contains the 12th of the month. That means the reference period is now: April 12-18.

The better the unemployment rate looks in the May report (for April), the more likely hours will be reduced across the board somewhere else.

The U-6 unemployment rate which counts people working part-time who want a full time job can easily top 30%.

What's Next?

For a 20-point discussion of what to expect, please see Nothing is Working Now: What's Next for America?

The huge fear now is How Do I Pay the Bills?

This is the second crisis in 12 years. These scars will last.

No V-Shaped Recovery

Add it all up and you should quickly arrive at the correct viewpoint: The Covid-19 Recession Will Be Deeper Than the Great Financial Crisis.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (32)
No. 1-13

I am a bit surprised that stocks have done so well lately after the initial drop.


More and more people will stop paying ALL their bills except Netflix.

Oregon governor just announced total inaction to re-open the economy ... the big plan is to have a few weeks of meetings re: her "framework."


Mish, I have a question/proposition regarding equity markets, which unemployment feeds into:

In thinking of drivers of stock prices, it's fairly widely recognised that the 6.4 trillion of buybacks since roughly 2012 has disappeared for the foreseeable future.

I've not seen any discussion or speculation as to whether massive unemployment will lead to forced liquidation of 401k's....Do you think that is going to be a significant issue for equity markets?

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Sounds Inflationary

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

"The huge fear now is How Do I Pay the Bills?"


For those NEEDING the $1200 ... it will be but a drop in the bucket.

The jobs that needed only day / weeks to be terminated ... will take months / years to be brought back.

Deflation on tap.


The Pratt-Whitney and Collins Aerospace divisions of Raytheon Technologies are now implementing both furloughs and salary cuts.


NASDAQ composite has done a 56% retrace from the 6861 low on 3/23. A few more points to get back to 8566, the initial bottom set on 2/27. We are almost out of the weeds!!!


Totally destroying lives in the response to C19 is the equivalent of taking a bazooka to a fistfight, we now know the risk groups that need protecting and the vectors to slow the spread - hint it's hospitals and LTCs, not relaxing on a beach or walking past your neighbor on the sidewalk.

And the V shape recovery is a joke, how many businesses are coming back (maybe 70%), plus how many new businesses are going to pop-up when the mini dictators - aka state governors can crush your business by fiat without reparations (actually I hope owners start lawsuits asap)... I guess pandemic insurance will be a new cost for owners, along with higher prices for customers.

If we don't get back to some sort of operation ASAP, expect another 10% (to start) of the workforce to get fired as a follow-on from the service industry. And state / local budgets are going to be hammered, do you think they are planning to cut 30% or more of costs... or just going raise taxes on remaining few who have jobs?



I missed the word forced - there will be no "forced" liquidations of 401Ks


The world has changed already and I don't think the markets are recognizing how subdued "re-opening" will probably be. Vast swaths of the "service economy" will be very slow to recover. Good news for carmakers--China is seeing a rise in auto-buying because depending of transit systems is seen as less safe than it was.


I don’t agree with all of it, but I found this John Oliver video on the topic pretty funny (something quite valuable these days):


1918 was the influenza pandemic...1929 was a financial crash and the beginning of the great depression. 2009 was a financial crash...and 2020 is another pandemic...both events roughly 11 years apart from each other. The Great Depression saw asset values fall by 90% in the end. It took close to 20-25 years to recover your losses from that period if you held from 1929 onwards assuming you could hold.

1929 saw an initial crash of 48%...followed by a bear market rally of 50% of the losses (still down 22.5%) followed by a 3 year grind down much lower. We fell by 35%...so far a recovery of 29%...still down 15.5% from the highs.

Based on what I'm reading it is apparent that even though the government is acting already it is woefully inadequate for anything but businesses that don't need the cash. Many are already filling for bankruptcy...by the end of April (even with the little cash .gov gives out) double will have filled by then. By the end of May, even after governments relax their stance but many stay home, we can double that number again.

Less than 20% of American's have six months of emergency funds set aside. This is the true killer much like it was in 1929 as everyone was flying high from the roaring 20's. Our grandparents learned that the borrower is a slave to their lenders...we are about to have the same lesson they learned drilled into us...eventually. The pain getting to that point will be epic.


Having worked on many government web sites, I'm not surprised they're crashing. The sites are intentionally bad with slow performance because, by law, they have to work for all people. It has to work for blind people, which means it has to work with screen readers. No AJAX. No dynamic HTML. Every change requires a full post back. The pages are as simple as possible and have very slow performance.

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