JEFFERSON CITY – Governor Parson says Missouri will withdraw from all federal unemployment benefits related to the COVID-19 pandemic effective Saturday, June 12.
Parson says it comes as Missouri has hundreds of thousands of jobs open.
“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.”
The announcement applies to six 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.
The cancellations mean the end of the additional $300 per week federal supplement on unemployment assistance. That’s in addition to a $320 per week cap on state unemployment benefits.
The Missouri Department of Labor has already notified the U.S. Department of Labor of its intention to withdraw from federal pandemic-related unemployment programs.
It comes as several other Republican-led states have moved to end the extra $300 per week in COVID-19 pandemic related unemployment benefits, saying the relief is discouraging Americans from heading back into the labor force. Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina and Montana have all announced they will halt the extra payments next month.
It also comes after a disappointing April jobs report showed the economy only gained about 266,000 jobs. Economists had originally predicted that number to top 1 million.
Democrat and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade released a statement after Tuesday's announcement. She said the free market, not a "federal boogeyman" like the Governor claims, is primarily responsible for the tight labor market in Missouri.
"When there are more open jobs than available workers, businesses must increase wages to attract prospective employees, particularly in industries with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure," Quade said. "That’s how supply and demand works. If companies provide a livable wage, applicants will respond. The notion that Missourians are refusing to work so they can temporarily collect $300 a week is an offensive right-wing myth.”
The Missouri Chamber and Industry contradicted Quade's statement with support for the Governor's action and said employers across Missouri have cited that the benefits are a key reason why they cannot find enough workers.
“Right now employers are deeply concerned about their ability to find the workers they need," Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry," said. "For months we have sounded the alarm about our state’s growing workforce shortage. Addressing this issue will take a multifaceted approach, and we continue to work on legislation in the Capitol that will help Missourians attain the skills they need to thrive in a recovered economy."