Metro Detroiters say issues arising when trying to apply for unemployment

Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 19:56:02-04

(WXYZ) — Dozens of metro Detroiters have reached out to 7 Action News upset about not being able to get through to file an unemployment claim despite being directed from the website to phone-in.

That includes a Shelby Township woman who works at an automotive parts supplier who says she's tried calling over 1,000 times.

Frustration is at an all-time high for folks calling into 7 Action News and on Wednesday, we've learned that there is another contact the state is providing that people can use to troubleshoot their issues.

"I started (calling) last Tuesday," said Kelly Lewis. "I have made over 2,000 calls or more."

Lewis says her fingers have gotten a lot of exercise as of late, making hundreds of calls to the same number.

"They start taking calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.," Lewis said. "I start at 7:58 in the morning and a lot of times you'll get a busy signal or it’ll take you to somebody else and tell you it’s busy, the line is tied up."

SHe was laid off last week from an automotive supplier in Sterling Heights and while she knows the unemployment office will backdate checks from her layoff date, she's worried about not having enough money to take care of what's needed now.

"Some people are living paycheck to paycheck and they still need food and that’s a big problem," Lewis said.

And she isn't alone. 7 Action has gotten dozens of similar phone calls and messages pouring into our newsroom, prompting a question to the labor department on Monday and again on Wednesday.

Demand is so high, the unemployment system went down entirely for nearly two hours on Tuesday.

Prior to the pandemic, an average of 5,000 weekly claims were file, but the labor department's Jason Moon says last week it was nearly 130,000 claims.

The stat says it has responded by expanding the filing requirement window from 14 to 28 days, and starting an alphabetical system to spread out both phone and online requests.

"We understand their frustration, we’re all in this together, we are going to get through it together," Moon said. "We are public servants here to serve the people of Michigan and provide them with emergency financial relief."

There is now an email people can use if they haven't been able to resolve their issue. That email is For additional info, visit

The state is also adding 100 more staff positions to assist with increased demand.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.