BREAKING: Michigan unemployment website crashes, delaying state update on expanded benefits

It’s a tough day for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

In addition to facing backlash over her stay-at-home order that is being called “radical” by detractors, the Michigan unemployment website has crashed.

Detroit Free Press reports in an embarrassing twist Monday morning, the 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.

Jeff Donofrio’s remarks were postponed until Tuesday and the director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity is now expected to speak during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s briefing at 3 p.m.

“Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers can now apply for federal benefits online,” the unemployment website now says, adding that workers should file online, “based on their last names.”

But, when attempting to file, an error message pops up: “This site can’t be reached.”

Caleb Buhs, the communications director for Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said the state is experiencing problems that are causing some online services to be temporarily out.

“Teams are working diligently to restore service to 100 percent,” he said. “There is not currently a timeline for restoration.”

Donofrio has repeatedly asked frustrated Michiganders to be patient as the state tries to make adjustments to an unemployment system that has been overwhelmed.

History of problems

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 420,000 people have filed claims since March 15.

Last week, the state said it took steps to handle the record number of claims filed claims since the coronavirus outbreak, including more call-center employees.

Workers ineligible for benefits, the state said, are those on paid sick leave or other paid leave, people who have the ability to telework with pay, and anyone who quit work without good cause.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which provides more than $2.2 trillion for economic stimulus and relief, some self-employed Michiganders traditionally ineligible for unemployment benefits will be covered.

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