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Finding A Job During The Coronavirus Crisis

Andy Robins

Michigan has seen a 1,500-percent increase in unemployment claims because of the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses are limiting hours or closing. But the head of Michigan Works! in Kalamazoo says the pandemic has also created jobs in some places.

Ben Damerow is the executive director of the Michigan Works! offices in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Three Rivers, and Coldwater.

"Amazon announced that they're hiring thousands of workers to handle deliveries. Meijer is hiring stocking and warehouse members. Aldi's as well. FedEx is hiring more transportation specialists. So, there are different fields right now that are seeing increases in hiring. And also in the health care field we see several agencies looking for home health care aides."

Damerow says he hopes jobseekers will respond to those and other potential employers.

"Yeah, we're hopeful. We're planning on doing a virtual job fair. We don't have the technology completely figured out at this point but it has been done in the past. So, we're looking at unique and innovative ways that we can bring employers and jobseekers together."

Damerow says details about be announced next week. Michigan Works! offices are now open by appointment only because of the outbreak. And Damerow says the state has suspended rules requiring people to apply for unemployment through Michigan Works! offices. That can be done online with the state.

While some Michigan businesses are shedding workers as the pandemic slows the economy, Damerow says they shouldn't rush to hand out pink slips because there are alternatives.

"There's a workshare program at the Unemployment Insurance Agency where individuals don't necessarily need to terminate their employees. This assists with keeping them connected to that employer."

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.
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