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The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency reverted its call center hours back to 8 to 5 p.m., the hours of operation before the coronavirus pandemic was detected in the state. 

In April, UIA extended the call center’s hours to 8 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it remained open on Saturday, from 7 to 2 p.m. 

At that time, the center also added 300 new agents to address the rising number of people filing claims after non-essential businesses shutdown. Normal staffing levels are about 130 employees.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has shortened its inbound call center hours (Photo: glegorly, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The call center has changed its structure overall to help out-of-work Michiganders, according to Jason Moon, communications director for Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. 

The 800 agents now employed by UIA stop taking inbound calls at 5 p.m., but they continue working until 6 p.m. to make “outbound calls to claimants who contacted the call center with very complex cases throughout the day,” Moon explained. 

MORE:Dropped calls, long waits preventing some from filing unemployment during coronavirus in Michigan

Agents will continue working on Saturdays, but they will mostly focus on “the adjudication and processing of claims” and will make outbound calls only, he added. 

The changes, which took effect on June 29, shouldn’t affect the agency’s ability to serve residents, Moon said. 

“We remain committed to providing emergency financial assistance to the Michigan workers whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic,” he said. 

Moon acknowledged that some people may have trouble reaching an agent.

“If callers are able to enter the hold queue, the average wait time is less than 30 minutes. Due to the unprecedented increase in unemployment activity because of COVID-19, every caller is not able to enter the hold queue,” he explained. 

“Overall, our call volume continues to decrease as workers head back to work. Less folks overall are applying for benefits,” he added. 

Although new unemployment claims remain at historically high levels, they have dropped in Michigan, falling from 19,842 to 14,462 as of the week ending on Aug. 8, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

To date, the state has paid out $19 billion in benefits to more than 2 million people. 

“That equates to 98% paid to potentially eligible and certified claimants,” Moon said. 

For those who need to file unemployment claims, visit www.Michigan.gov/UIA

Contact LSJ reporter Kristan Obeng at [email protected] or 517-267-1344. Follow her on Twitter @KrissyObeng.

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