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Missouri unemployment rates remain high amid coronavirus pandemic


Unemployment claims continued to reach unusually high numbers last week as many businesses have closed in the wake of COVID-19, leaving workers laid off or furloughed. 

According to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR), 91,049 initial claims were filed last week. This continues the trend of unusually high numbers of claims in the past few weeks as stay at home orders have taken effect. The previous week saw 104,230 claims, more than double the 42,207 seen the week before that. And weeks prior typically saw between 2,000 to 7,000 claims. 

In contrast to these numbers, DOLIR lists 12,856 total filings in March of 2019, and 10,685 initial claims in April of the same year. 

DOLIR said more than 76,800 of the 91,049 initial claims were COVID-19 related. In comparison: 89,303 of the 104,230 initial claims for the week of March 28 were related to COVID-19.

Stay at home and quarantine mandates had been rolling out for weeks prior to the statewide order that went into effect on Monday, causing businesses in the service and retail industries to shut down, furloughing and laying off employees. 

Unemployment rates are high on the national level as well, as total initial claims for last week in the U.S. reached more than 6.6 million, about 250,000 less than the week prior while still much higher than the 203,000 claims made the same week the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

New federal programs are being implemented to offset worker’s losses during the pandemic. President Donald Trump recently signed an act to cover individuals and families during the pandemic. Under this Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, stimulus checks are expected to arrive soon for many eligible taxpayers to help cover various expenses in the wake of job loss or furlough. 

Missouri leaders have said individuals could start seeing those checks as early as next week. 

Missouri is preparing for the economic fallout of the continuing crisis. The state legislature met this week to approve an expanded supplemental budget to offset economic needs and shortfalls due to COVID-19. 

At least 3,539 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19, and 77 people have died.

This story has been updated. 

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