At a Glance ...


Michigan sees 134K new jobless claims, progress on benefits

LANSING (AP) — Michigan, whose inundated unemployment system saw 134,000 new filings last week, reported progress Thursday in processing claims and getting money out the door during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state has seen nearly 1.2 million initial applications over five weeks — the equivalent of 25 percent unemployment — though not all of those people will qualify for benefits.

More than $1.3 billion has gone to 820,000 individuals. Another 200,000 claims likely will be certified for payment in the next few days, said Jeff Donofrio, director of the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

He said Michigan was among the first states to include an extra $600 a week in checks and to provide benefits to newly eligible self-employed and gig workers under the federal coronavirus rescue package.

About 17 percent of the state's workforce is now receiving unemployment aid, the largest proportion in the country.

“We've thrown everything we can at this. We've got this commitment to getting as many people through the system as possible,” Donofrio told The Associated Press.

People who lost jobs have been frustrated because the crush of applicants has at times overwhelmed the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s website and phone system.

The state has added computer servers, more than quadrupled call center staff and trained third-party partners to Donofrio said while Michigan is processing many claims and sending checks as quickly as possible, it is a “small comfort” to people who encounter issues and need personal attention to resolve issues.

“Even though it's a very small percentage of the number of people who apply, it's still a very big number of individuals who need one-on-one help,” he said, saying “tens of thousands” of people are in the queue.

Jogger dons costume to cheer up neighborhood

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — More than a week after Easter, there’s was still one mythical creature hopping around a Florida neighborhood trying to spread happiness.

Corey Jurgensen, 40, donned a seven-foot -tall inflatable unicorn costume to jog, jump and dance around the streets near her Tampa home last week in an effort to cheer up neighbors stuck indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Jurgensen originally purchased the inflatable for Halloween, but gave it a new life on March 21 when a friend from Washington saw a similar act on social media and challenged Jurgensen to suit up and show hers off.

Since then, Jurgensen told the newspaper she has galloped around streets within a mile radius of her home multiple times — drawing honks from passing cars, claps from families standing on porches and many, many photos posted to social media.

Though the massage therapist has not been able to work her regular job in weeks, she said her new calling is providing a temporary distraction.

“There is nothing better than being a unicorn,” Jurgensen told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone smiles when they see a unicorn.”


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