Kristin Seefeldt, associate professor of social work and public policy and faculty by courtesy at the Ford School, says Michigan’s unemployment system was never set up to handle severe drops in unemployment. In an article on Mlive May 15, she was quoted as saying, “Usually in our economic downturns, job loss happens gradually and our systems are designed for that. They’re not designed for a switch being flipped and all of a sudden you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people trying to apply.”
Furthermore, she said, administrative requirements were built into Michigan’s system to put the burden on applicants to prove they are eligible for aid.
“It’s part of this larger discourse around if you make benefits too generous, if you make them too easy to get, then somehow you’re going to incentivize people to quit working or not look for work,” Seefeldt said. “That becomes really damaging in periods where there simply aren’t jobs to take.”
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Kristin S. Seefeldt is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, with a courtesy appointment at the Ford School. She holds a PhD in public policy and sociology from the University of Michigan. Her work focuses on how large macroeconomic and policy changes shape the lives of low to moderate-income families. She is the author of Working after Welfare (2008) and Abandoned Families (2016). Her most recent book is Credit Where It's Due (with Frederick Wherry and Anthony Alvarez). She is also the author of numerous journal articles, including publications in the American Journal of Public Health, Social Forces, and Social Service Review.