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Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency wins federal equity grant

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Michigan is receiving millions in federal grant money to address disparities in gaining jobless benefits.

The grant funding will help pay for translation services, new community partnerships, and analysis to track progress in closing equity gaps.

Julia Dale directs Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency. She said there will also be seminars to help new claimants understand how the system works.

“We know that UI’s spectrum from cradle to grave can be a long process for some, and it can be confusing at times. And we want to eliminate those barriers that cause confusion,” Dale said.

Federal guidance dictates the grant-funded programs should address barriers related to race, age, disability status, and other systemic issues.

Dale said challenges faced in rural and urban settings come to mind, in particular. She said the state hopes to target specific inequities.

“We know that first of all, there is, in some spaces, limited internet access, which impacts an individual’s ability to easily apply for benefits online. We also see language barriers,” she said.

Money for the grant comes from the federal American Rescue Plan. Along with Michigan, California, Iowa, Nevada, and West Virginia are also receiving funds this round.

The unemployment agency said it expects to implement the new initiatives next year.

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