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Missouri unemployment continues to remain high amid COVID-19

Unemployment claims continued to hit unusually high numbers as businesses furlough and lay-off workers during the global COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR), 101,722 people filed for unemployment last week, maintaining a trend of high numbers in the past four weeks. 

These numbers are more than half of the total of individual filings in March, which reached 196,290 for the month. The unemployment rate for March reached 4.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent at the same time last year. Then, just 12,865 initial claims were filed. 

The first major spike of 2020 was during the week of March 21, which saw 42,207 filings, more than 10 times the prior week. Weekly initial claims have since remained above 90,000. This increase coincided with quarantine and stay at home orders that have shuttered many businesses and left workers in many industries without jobs. 

The DOLIR outlined a number of ways it and other state agencies are attempting to help stimulate the medical field, as well as communities and businesses, in its March jobs report. These steps include:

  • Providing resources on financial relief and assistance, health and safety, closures and layoffs, and regulatory changes
  • Healthcare worker recruitment by the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team
  • Manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the State Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Economic Development 
  • The Missouri Services Navigator, created by the Department of Social Services, to help find essential services, including food and diaper banks
  • Community resources from the USDA Rural Development agency
  • Recruitment of workers to health care and other essential fields

Missouri continues to brace for the economic fallout of the pandemic. Lawmakers are set to return to the state capital on April 27 to work on next year’s budget. Legislators, too, have said they’re poised to take up other priorities pertaining to the economy. 

More than 4,895 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 147 have died. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.