In Michigan
5:25 pm
Wed September 8, 2010

Michigan welfare numbers resume creep upward

LANSING, MI –

Welfare caseloads are back on the rise in Michigan after leveling off earlier this year. As Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, part of the reason is people losing unemployment payments.

AUDIO:
While Michigan's unemployment rate appears to have stabilized, there are still a lot of people looking for jobs. Sharon Parks with the Michigan League for Human Services says more than 40 percent of unemployed people have been without jobs for six months or more.

"You know, with that kind of unemployment, you're going to see needs go up, and that's going to strain the social safety net and I think that's what we're seeing," she says.

Parks says people are exhausting unemployment benefits extended in some cases to 99 weeks.

The state Department of Human Services says there's a record 1.9 million people relying on some type of public assistance to help pay for food, health care, housing or utilities.

Parks says she's very concerned about the growing number of people applying for cash assistance, which serves desperately poor families that have burned through their savings and other assets.