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Agency says jobless claims slowed by massive fraud efforts

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The director of Michigan’s unemployment system said today (THU) there was an unprecedented increase in efforts to defraud the system during the COVID-19 crisis, and that bogged down processing claims.

Director Liza Estlund Olson testified remotely before the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee. She said there was a huge jump in claims as the COVID-19 crisis worsened. She said many claims were fakes that had to be weeded out, some were questionable, and resolving all that slowed down processing legitimate claims.

“And so you’ve got people who are honest, and people who aren’t, which is part of what the problem is,” said Olson.

Estlund said the agency went on a hiring spree to bring in enough people to speed up the process.

The Republican chair of the committee said he thinks it’s time to re-open unemployment offices for in-person visits to help jobless people resolve their claims.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.