Michigan — October 17, 2011 at 9:18 am

Judge allows end to welfare benefits for tens of thousands of essentially unemployable Michiganders


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Early this month, I wrote about how a move by the Snyder administration to through over 10,000 Michigan families off the welfare rolls had been temporarily halted by a U.S. District Court judge.

A federal judge in Michigan today smacked down a new Republican-passed law that will throw tens of thousands of Michiganders off the welfare rolls with little notice, temporarily halting its implementation.

A federal judge today accused the state of “sleight of hand,” and halted plans to end welfare benefits to nearly 41,000 Michigan residents.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman determined after a hearing today that the state failed to give proper notice to those it planned to cut off, and although the issue was brought to the federal court in a lawsuit filed by just three plaintiffs, the judge also granted class status to include everyone affected by the state’s decision.

Lawyers for the government declined to discuss after the hearing how the state will respond.

The judge’s order requires the state to send new notices to all those affected — and this time the state must include a copy of a new policy that dictates the changes.

Borman said it was unfair that the new policy wasn’t made public until Oct. 1, long after those effected were required to file protests.

That same judge is now allowing it to move forward.

Welfare cuts are back on after U.S. District Judge Paul Borman ruled late today that the new notices sent out this week by the Michigan Department of Human Services provided enough warning and information to 11,162 families scheduled to lose their cash assistance benefits this month.

The revised notices “satisfy the due process concerns,” Borman wrote in his ruling.


The 11,162 families represent about 40,000 people, two-thirds of whom are teenagers and children. The families had been receiving benefits for at least 48 months, and some had been getting benefits for as long as 10 years.

So, what will these 11,162 families do? Get a job? As Laura Clawson at Daily Kos points out, that’s not likely.

Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute sets the record straight:

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain responded to a question about the Occupy Wall Street protests by saying, “Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”

Here are the facts: This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (pdf) showing that there were nearly 3.1 million job openings in August. However, we know from other BLS data that there were 14 million unemployed workers in August. In other words, there were nearly 11 million more job seekers than job openings.

The ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is now 4.6-to-1. A job seeker’s ratio of more than 4-to-1 means there are literally no jobs available for more than three out of four unemployed workers. In a given month in today’s labor market, the vast majority of the unemployed are not going to find a job no matter what they do.

There is one job for every four people looking for jobs. In Michigan, the situation is far more dire. And the people losing their benefits are the long-term unemployed which, as is becoming obvious to everyone, means they won’t be getting any job offers.

Oh, and if they want to go to a food pantry or soup kitchen, they may be out of luck there, too

Charities and agencies that help people who are poor and unemployed are bracing for what could be a flood of needy people seeking help after state welfare rolls are cut by about 41,000 people next month.

Adding to the dire situation: State money collected to help poor people with heating bills remains in legal limbo, and agencies that help poor people are seeing federal and state funding shrink.

According to the state Department of Human Resources, 43 agencies — food banks and soup kitchens — have been cut from Emergency Services funding for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Last fiscal year, they received a total of $1,261,659 in funding.

This is about to get ugly.


Check out this banner from the top of the Michigan Talent Bank website today:

Jobs Available: 51,256
Resumes Available: 832,299

That’s a 1:16 ratio. What is the Michigan Talent Bank? It’s an official state website associated with Michigan Works! From their About page, “We are the Workforce Development Agency, State of Michigan”.

But, yeah, get a job, hippy/slacker/lazy bum!