New unemployment head balances paying claims, stopping fraud

Michigan
Unemployment COVID-19

A pedestrian walks by The Framing Gallery, closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Thursday, May 7, 2020. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that auto and other manufacturing workers can return to the job next week, further easing her stay-at-home order while extending it through May 28 because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s acting unemployment director has told lawmakers her office is trying to balance between quickly paying benefits to jobless workers and preventing fraud, saying impostor claims are rampant in a backlog of 90,000-plus cases.

Liza Estlund Olson took over the Unemployment Insurance Agency less than a month ago after the previous chief, Steve Gray, fell out of favor with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The agency last week released an independent report showing how — faced with an unprecedented deluge of claims during the coronavirus lockdown last spring — it made policy, technological and organizational changes that increased exposure to fraud.

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