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To encourage work, Missouri will end federal unemployment bonus

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday announced that the state will end participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment insurance “bonus” programs on June 12.

“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. “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.”

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The termination announced 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 percent reimbursement of short-time compensation benefit costs paid under state law; and
  • Mixed earner unemployment compensation.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Anna Hui gave notice of Missouri’s intention to terminate all federal pandemic-related unemployment programs.

“During the last recession in 2008, the federal government contributed $25 per week to supplement state unemployment benefits,” the letter said. “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.”

Missouri unemployment numbers continue to decline but many receiving generous federal bonuses have been dropped from the database.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice