If you find yourself unemployed and you live in Michigan, it's a double whammy, according to a new analysis that finds the state falls far short of its neighbors when it comes to providing a safety net to those looking for jobs.

The report from the Michigan League for Public Policy puts the state dead last in the Midwest for both the amount and duration of benefits it provides unemployed workers. Report author Peter Ruark says when a worker is unemployed, the resulting spending cuts he or she must make will first impact that person’s family, but will then have a ripple effect. "It also means that the businesses around them are suffering,” he points out. “So unemployment insurance is actually a very good way to keep the economy somewhat stable when there are periods of high unemployment."

The report says Michigan's jobless can collect benefits for 20 weeks, compared with 26 weeks in all seven nearby states. The report recommends expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance and tying the amount of benefits to the state's average weekly wage. While some cite declining unemployment numbers as proof the system doesn't need any improvement, Ruark says that sort of thinking is what has gotten the state into trouble in the past. "We wait until there is a crisis on top of us and then we say, ‘Oh, this should have been fixed,’” he points out. “Now is a good time to make sure that we improve the unemployment insurance system so that next time we have a recession, we are prepared as a state."

Lawmakers recently passed a series of bipartisan reforms to the unemployment insurance system after the state wrongly accused nearly 48,000 people of fraud, resulting in having to refund more than $20 million dollars. The Public News Service contributed to this report. (JK)