Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Dec. 29, 2021, signed Executive Order 2021-16, which established an unemployment fraud response team to recommend actions to the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the heads of other executive departments for reducing the number of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims the state pays. The order also tasked the response team with helping to coordinate and expedite law enforcement activities related to unemployment insurance fraud.
Whitmer issued the order the same day the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency released a report that found the state paid up to $8.51 billion dollars in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits between March 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021. The report estimated that 97% of the fraudulent payments were federally funded, and 3% were paid out of Michigan’s State Unemployment Trust Fund.
The order will terminate the response team on Dec. 31, 2023.
Unemployment insurance refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.
The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.