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Missouri Ends Participation in Federal Pandemic-Related Unemployment Insurance

In the state of Missouri, it ended at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 12.

Of course, I am referring to the Governor’s decision to end participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs. In his official press release announcing the decision, the Governor said in his discussions with business owners from across the state, they are struggling with labor shortages not because of the pandemic, but because of excessive federal unemployment programs.

When the original supplement of $600 weekly ended, it was replaced by a $300 per seek supplement to Missouri’s regular unemployment benefits. This means thousands of claimants are receiving more than $600 per week. The unemployment benefit is meant to be a safety net as workers look to reenter the job market. Some believe these artificially high benefits have outlived their purpose and are keeping many from coming back into the work force.

Locally, many employers have expressed frustration in trying to hire enough workers to operate their businesses in pre-pandemic fashion. We hear this from multiple employment sectors including hospitality, manufacturing, the service industry, and others. And a quick glance at local job postings, or a drive around the area, shows hundreds of open positions and many employers trying to hire at starting wages between $13 and $17 dollars per hour.

The next few weeks will tell us a lot. Will the ending of the federal benefit spur re-entry into the job market, or are there other factors in play?