How West Michigan Works! Pivoted to Make an Impact in 2020

The year 2020 started out with unemployment at a historical low—around 3%. In the blink of an eye, COVID-19 wiped out an entire decade of economic recovery from the last recession. Businesses shut down, and we found ourselves back at 2009 levels of unemployment.

Business owners faced the fear of laying off staff and even closing their doors permanently.

Many individuals found themselves not knowing when or if they would go back to their jobs. They faced an overwhelmed unemployment system and delays in critical benefits.

Those lucky enough to continue working had to start balancing work-from-home technology, homeschooling children and family health and safety.

Last year forced us all to adjust to a new way of life. Through innovation and flexibility, we found the path forward.

Adjusting Services in a Pandemic

As thousands of Michiganders lost their jobs in the early months of the pandemic, we shifted our focus to assist the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). West Michigan Works! staff received training in basic services to help individuals file initial unemployment claims and verify identification for those whose payments were held up due to potential fraud. From April to September 2020, we fielded over 73,000 UIA assistance calls.

The workforce agency also pivoted quickly to provide virtual services to anyone looking for a job. Services included program enrollment, workshops and virtual hiring events. In fact, WMW! was the first agency in Michigan to host a virtual job fair to help fill essential roles in our communities. In 2020, they hosted 40 virtual hiring events featuring 324 employers and leading to 207 new hires.

Making an Impact in 2020

Even in a time of uncertainty and anxiety, we were there for our communities. In 2020:

  • We served 32,609 job seekers.
  • Services resulted in $568 million in wages earned.
  • 3,023 employers received services.
  • 7,971 jobs were filled.

To learn more about our regional impact in 2020, check out our 2020 Annual Report.

While it’s a new year, we continue to face the challenges of a global pandemic. When you’re ready to get back to work, we are here to help.