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Unemployment benefits in Michigan: how to sign into MiWAM portal

With new work search requirements becoming a requirement to receive benefits, many on unemployment look for guidance on accessing the MiWAM portal.

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Unemployment benefits in Michigan: how to sign into MiWAM portal
FREDERIC J. BROWN AFP

Michigan’s economy was hit hard by the Great Recession. In 2011, years after the economic collapse, one in ten Michiganders found themselves without work. In 2019, the unemployment rate had dropped from those highs to 4.1%.  Then, the pandemic sparked massive layoffs and furloughs. At the height of the pandemic in April and May 2020, two in every ten workers in the state were out of work.

 However, as seen all over the country, these numbers are quickly coming down; much more rapidly than after the 2008 crisis. In April 2021, the unemployment rate stood at 4.9%, which is still above pre-pandemic levels, but the lowest rate recorded since the pandemic began.

For those still claiming unemployment benefits in Michigan, on 30 May, the state reestablished that those on unemployment report their on work search progress when claiming their benefits. These requirements aim to incentive those on unemployment to apply for jobs, with the longer-term goal of reducing the number of people claiming benefits.

How to log in to the system?

To provide information on the progress claimants are having applying to jobs, one must log in to the state portal. This can be accessed through the Michigan Department of Labor Unemployment website.

What constitutes a “valid” work search activity?

That state government has released guidance on what qualifies as a valid activity in searching for a job. The guidance also provides information on what evidence must be submitted for each qualifying activity. For example, those who submit an application to a job or report having an interview should stand ready to provide, the “job title or reference number, employer or business name, information on how you made the contact (in-person, online, phone, email, or other) employer or business contact information.”

In Michigan, there are a variety of activities that can be reported, and not all of them deal directly with applying for a job. Some relate to professional development including:

  • Participate in virtual or remote job shadowing.

  • Participate in an occupational skills or computer course.

  • Participate in LinkedIn Learning certified courses, or courses on a similar online learning platform that issue certificates of completion.


Getting prepared to begin the job search can also qualify. Those who create an account on LinkedIn or other job search websites can report those activities. In addition, the state of Michigan also provides a platform to find openings and registration counts as an approved activity. In addition, the state hosts webinars to help those search for work more effectively, and attending these events can also be reported.

There is no shortage of options, and it is important that those who are struggling to find interviews take advantage of the broad range of tools available. To further those on unemployment, the state has also released an extensive Q&A on the new requirements.