Today, from Missouri Governor Mike Parson (r):
GOVERNOR PARSON ANNOUNCES MISSOURI TO END ALL FEDERAL PANDEMIC-RELATED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
MAY 11, 2021
JEFFERSON CITY In order to address workforce shortages across the state, Governor Mike Parson today directed the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) to notify the U.S. Department of Labor that Missouri will end participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs effective Saturday, June 12 at 11:59 p.m.
“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,” Governor 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.”
“As I travel the state, from Sarcoxie to Hannibal and all points in between, over-arching concerns from business owners is the shortage of employees,” Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe said. “Across every industry, businesses cannot compete against federal largesse. Our economy is built upon an active and vibrant workforce, and we should be cultivating job-creation and employment rather than inhibiting them. The jobs exist and the demand exists, and I applaud the governor for taking this bold and decisive action.”
The termination announced today 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.
“We know that one of the last remaining hurdles to full economic recovery is addressing this labor shortage. Even with unemployment at only 4.2 percent, there are still 221,266 known job postings across the state,” Governor Parson said. “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.”
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. To view the letter, see attachment.
“During the last recession in 2008, the federal government contributed $25 per week to supplement state unemployment benefits. During the latest economic downturn, Washington poured in $600 per week in addition to Missouri’s weekly benefit of up to $320,” said Director Hui.
“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,” Director Hui continued. “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.”
Today’s action follows steps taken last July to require claimants to again conduct weekly work searches in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. This work search requirement had originally been waived in March of 2020 as part of an agreement with the federal government to receive funds under the CARES Act.
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.
Original thoughts? Not a chance.