Governor signs jobless benefits extension

East Lansing, MI – Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
Governor Granholm has signed legislation that extends payments to unemployed workers by seven weeks.

This is the second time this year the payments have been extended.

The extension will allow some laid-off workers to collect benefits for up to 79 weeks.

That's almost 20 months.

State officials estimate as many as 200,000 people may qualify for extended unemployment benefits this year.

Governor Granholm says that's no surprise as Michigan continues to struggle with the collapse of the auto industry, and the highest jobless rate in the nation.

The governor says she hopes laid-off workers will use the extension to get re-trained for new jobs.

She says money from the federal stimulus package will be used to expand job training programs that currently have long waiting lists.