Michigan’s continuing high unemployment rate, which stands at 13.1 percent, is pushing more unemployed job seekers to rely on government assistance programs to maintain household stability factors.
The state Department of Human Services (DHS) is experiencing an increase in cash assistance caseloads. Michigan League for Human Services’ Economic Security Bulletin quarterly publication for September 2010 reports that the state’s caseloads were up 10.6 percent during the second half of 2010, compared with a year ago.
The report cites that 64 counties increased their Family Independence Program (FIP) cash assistance caseloads. Several large counties which experienced significant increases included Livingston at 30.4 percent, Oakland increased by 25 percent, Kalamazoo by 24.5 percent, Jackson by 24.1 percent and Macomb by 21.7 percent.
“We’re glad the safety net is catching more people, but at the same time, it’s disturbing that so many people are at such a low income level that they qualify for help and have depleted their resources,’’ said Sharon Parks, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services to M-Live.
Washtenaw (30.6%), Livingston (38.0%), Ottawa (42.9) and Oakland (38.6%) counties experienced double-digit increases in requests for food assistance, as more unemployed job seekers have to settle for part-time employment, instead of full-time job opportunities. The report cites percentage of part-time workers who were not working full-time because of economic reasons was 9 percent in 2000, but 25 percent in 2009.
Residents in Washtenaw County account for the high percentages of college-educated adults within the state. Sperling Best Places to Live cites 24.54 percent of the county’s residents hold 4-year degrees, in comparison with an average of 15.74 percent of the entire United States population.
For the entire state, food assistance caseloads increased by 30 percent over the same time last year. This brings the total caseload of Michigan residents receiving food assistance to 885,070 for the second quarter. As of September 2010, more than 18 percent of the state’s total population is receiving a form of Food Assistance.
As the state’s unemployment rate grew, residents’ calls for governmental financial and food assistance increased. A total of 47 counties experienced an increase in requests for assistance as the unemployment rate grew for the second quarter of 2009 and that of 2010.
In contrast, only 35 counties had a decrease in food and cash assistance requests, according to the report.