With the federal WIRED grants entering the 3rd phase of bidding, many people wonder if an additional 3rd round grant will go to the state of Michigan.
Michigan was successful in winning on of the grants during the 2nd round, last year. Still, the state struggles with high unemployment coupled with a high minimum wage rate, which seems to be discouraging new manufacturing plants. In recent months, we have seen a number of major manufacturers locate in adjoining Indiana, instead.
It’s possible that an additional Michigan unemployment grant could increase employment in the state. In the first phase of WIRED, $195 million has been distributed in thirteen regions throughout America. In the second phase, another $65 million will be distributed, based on a competition involving state governors.
In a recent speech, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily DeRocco said, “Strong regional economies that are built on maximizing talent and innovation will be crucial to the nation’s success in the global economy.” This has been the principle that WIRED’s policies are based on, and they have been very successful in achieving their goals, so far.
The United States Labor Department initiated a program by the name of Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED). This program aims to improve economy by training the workforce in troubled areas. Recently, WIRED has made plans to inject up to $5 million in a Michigan unemployment grant. These funds would be utilized to train the workers in Michigan.
This region has had poor economic performance and high unemployment for the past several years. The region will receive an initial $500,000 as a gift, for the training of workers. After a regional implementation plan has been formulated, the rest of the amount will be disbursed.
At the announcement of the above-mentioned grant for Michigan, U. S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.”
As you know, the federal government has recently announced its plans to help the workers of economically oppressed Southeastern Michigan get WIRED. WIRED is a program developed to provide training to workers throughout the United States who live and work in a region that is historically plagued with a poorly functioning economy and high rates of joblessness.
Here’s the most recent update on the WIRED Michigan unemployment grant program. The state is using the initial $500,000 grant to develop a plan for workers in the state to upgrade their skills. Once that plan is approved by the US Dept. of Labor, the remainder of the $5 million WIRED grant will be released.
Known as WIRED, the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development initiative works by distributing federal grants to regions that have been identified by their state governors as struggling with high rates of unemployment and poor economic performance. Southeastern Michigan has been identified as just such a region and will receive a total federal training grant of $5 million in an effort to improve the economic outlook there.
The $5 million WIRED grant to Southeastern Michigan was recently announced by US Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality,” says Chao. She further states, “This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
As globalization of the world’s economy and job market continues to grow, it is imperative that all workers keep job skills as up to date as possible. In its effort to do just that, the WIRED grant to Southeastern Michigan will be awarded in two stages. The initial stage of the grant will provide $500,000 to Southeastern Michigan to be used for immediate training. The second and final stage of the award will fund the remaining $4.5 millions once a regional plan of implementation has been developed.
The current round of WIRED grants is expected to exceed $65 million. The initial round of WIRED grants totaled $195 million. The initial round of awards was granted to 13 regions throughout the nation known for economic struggle and instability. The WIRED initiative is sanctioned by the Employment and Training Administration within the US Department of Labor’s jurisdiction.
The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth recently announced a new program to combat Michigan unemployment. Called JET, or the Jobs, Education and Training Program, the pilot program recently received over $2.6 million awarded to Michigan Works! Agencies (MWA).
“The JET program will provide additional employment and training services to Michigan workers and provide more people with an opportunity to find a good-paying permanent job here in Michigan,” Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said.
According to Granholm, the JET Program is a partnership between the Department of Human Services, DLEG (Bureau of Workforce Programs and Michigan Rehabilitation Services) and the MWAs to help Michigan’s families overcome barriers to work. The program aims to connect Michigan workers with the kind of jobs, education, and training opportunities that will help them achieve self-sufficiency and meet the skill needs of Michigan’s employers. The JET Program has fewer restrictions than Work First and was designed to give the MWAs more flexibility in providing services to public assistance recipients.
Funding for the JET Program is provided by the state of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program is initially being implemented in 25 of Michigan’s counties hardest hit by high unemployment. Locations for the pilot program range from the Berrien-Case-Van Buren area to Detroit, from the Muskegon/Oceana area to Northwester Michigan, from Oakland to Saginaw and the Thumb Area to Southeast Michigan and Washtenaw County.
The JET pilot program is an effort to halt the rise of Michigan unemployment. Since 2003, the state’s unemployment rate has hovered around 6.8 percent to 7.1 percent. That’s more than 60 percent higher than the national average of 4.5 percent. In 2006, the Michigan unemployment rate was slightly higher than in 2005. Because of high unemployment, many young Michigan workers have left eh state, looking for work in nearby Illinois, Indiana or in the Sun Belt.
A number of credit unions in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Marshall and Grand Rapids recently announced a landmark program to help ease the Michigan unemployment problem. The credit unions will provide a total of $6.7 million in unsecured educational loans to credit union members affected by plant closings in Michigan. Best of all, the loans will be at lower interest rates than normal.
Participating credit unions include $4.6 million that will be available in the Lansing area through three credit unions, and $1.4 million in Kalamazoo through two credit unions. Over $200,000 will be available in Grand Rapids.
The State of Michigan, through the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG), has earmarked an additional $1.5 million to assist CTP students with textbooks. An additional $200,000 has been set aside for career counseling and placement services.
“I want to make sure workers impacted by our transitioning economy are able to update their education and enhance their job skills,” Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said. “The Career Transition Program, available to credit union members throughout Michigan, will help make that education and training a reality for those who need it.”
According to Granholm, the program will provide unsecured student loans to credit union members who require new or advanced training in a vocation or trade due to their situation in the job market. There is no interest and no payments on the loans for 24 months. The average projected savings for a member who qualifies for a $10,000 loan under the program is $950, based on the current unsubsidized Stafford loan rate. The savings may go as high as $5,100 when compared to an unsecured loan for the same 10-year term.
“The Michigan credit union community has enthusiastically embraced the CTP to provide real solutions to members faced with sudden job loss in this evolving economy,” said David Adams, president and chief executive officer for the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). “While credit unions are an integral part of Michigan’s economy through good times and bad, the current economic climate challenges us to do even more.”
It’s January, and that means just one thing – time to start thinking about income taxes. With the tax season approaching, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development wants to remind everyone that Michigan unemployment benefits are taxable.
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development will be mailing 1099 statements to anyone who received unemployment benefits in 2006, during the month of January. The tax statements, called 1099-G or “Statement for Recipients of Unemployment Compensation Payments,” report how much each person received in unemployment benefits last year. The UIA prepares the annual statements.
“Unemployment benefits are taxable, and those who received benefits will need these statements to prepare their 2006 state and federal tax returns,” Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), explained.
Beginning Thursday February 1, anyone with questions about their 1099-G can contact the UIA by phone, or visit a UIA agency Problem Resolution Office for help. Anyone who received unemployment benefits but does not receive the 1099-G by February 1 should contact the agency.
“This year we’ll be sending out approximately 570,000 1099-G forms,” Olson said. “The mailing will begin this Friday, January 19, and will be completed by January 26.”
One frequent question about the 1099-G statement concerns the amount of compensation it reports.
“The total compensation figure on the statement includes not only the amount of benefits paid but also any restitution or court ordered deductions, such as Friend of the Court payments,” Olson explained. “Because of these required deductions, jobless workers may have actually received less than what is reported on the 1099-G. We advise those with these types of deductions to consult with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to learn how these deductions affect their taxes and for instructions about reporting them.” Olson noted that the agency must also send the 1099-G information to the IRS and the Michigan Department of Treasury.
If workers chose to have state and federal income taxes deducted from their unemployment benefits in 2006, the 1099-G reports the amount of taxes paid, as well as earnings.