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'We know there are jobs out there:' Missouri to end all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits in June

KMBC Kansas City logo KMBC Kansas City 5/12/2021
Gov. Mike Parson © Charlie Riedel Gov. Mike Parson

Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that Missouri will stop participating in all six federal pandemic-related unemployment programs effective June 12 to “address workforce shortages across the state.”

“From conversations with business owners across the state, we know that they are struggling not because of COVID-19 but because of labor shortages resulting from these excessive federal unemployment programs,” Parson said in a news release.

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“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing. It's time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.”

The termination announced Tuesday applies to the following programs:

  • Pandemic unemployment assistance.
  • Emergency unemployment relief for government entities and nonprofit organizations.
  • Federal pandemic unemployment compensation.
  • Pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.
  • 100% reimbursement of short-time compensation benefit costs paid under state law.
  • Mixed earner unemployment compensation.

In a Tuesday news conference, Parson said off the top of his head he was not sure of how many people the changes will impact, but the Missouri Department of Labor would have the information.


Video: Missouri to end all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits in June (KMBC Kansas City)

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The move to end Federal unemployment benefits in Missouri is like what is going on in neighboring Iowa. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday that Iowa will end participation in several pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits programs due to a severe workforce shortage.

“We know that one of the last remaining hurdles to full economic recovery is addressing this labor shortage,” Parson said in the news release. “Even with unemployment at only 4.2%, there are still 221,266 known job postings across the state.

“The solution to close this gap is not the excessive spending of taxpayer dollars by the federal government, but rather getting people back to work and to a sense of normalcy for themselves and their families. Today’s action ensures that we will fill existing jobs as well as the thousands of new jobs coming to our state as businesses continue to invest and expand in Missouri.”

Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Anna Hui said in a news release the Federal support was meant to be a temporary fix, not a permanent solution.

“During the last recession in 2008, the federal government contributed $25 per week to supplement state unemployment benefits,” Hui said in the release. “During the latest economic downturn, Washington poured in $600 per week in addition to Missouri’s weekly benefit of up to $320.

“Even after the original $600 supplement expired, it was replaced by a federal supplement that provides an extra $300 per week on top of Missouri’s existing state benefit, meaning thousands of claimants continue to receive $620 per week or more. The unemployment system is designed to provide a temporary safety net as workers look to reenter the job market. Leaving the level of benefits artificially high would prevent a return to full employment in our state.”

Parson said under Missouri’s law, claimants are required to perform and report three work search activities per week. Qualified work search activities include filing an application (online or in-person) with an employer or through job posting sites or attending a job fair, job interview, reemployment service or skills workshop, Parson said.

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