JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri this week began paying an extra $300 per week to unemployed workers, the state announced Thursday evening.
The supplement was approved last week under Congress’s second major COVID-19 economic relief bill. Anyone receiving unemployment under any program is eligible for the extra $300 weekly supplement.
The last federal unemployment supplement of $600 a week, passed in the initial Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March, expired at the end of July and pumped $2.9 billion into jobless Missourians’ pockets. An emergency executive order added $300 payments to some unemployment checks into September, but many of those unable to find a job have spent months living on state unemployment payments that, in Missouri, max out at $320 per week.
The new $300 supplement added to unemployment payments is payable for anyone claiming unemployment during the week beginning Dec. 27. The payments will run through the week ending March 13.
The Congressional stimulus package also extended two emergency federal unemployment programs days away from expiring and leaving 12 million Americans without unemployment income. As of mid-December in Missouri, an estimated 70,000 people were receiving benefits under those programs, which cover self-employed workers ineligible for regular unemployment and an extended benefits program that adds 13 weeks of unemployment payments after state benefits expire. In Missouri, jobless workers are eligible for 20 weeks of regular unemployment, lower than the typical 26 weeks in most states.
Initial unemployment claims in Missouri have been ticking up over the last month, reaching 16,628 last week — the highest weekly claims figure since mid-July, according to state labor figures. Unemployment claims always tick up in January after seasonal employment for the holidays ends, but last week’s claims were higher than normal.
And after months of near constant decline as Missourians returned to the workforce or exhausted their benefits, the number of people on the state’s regular unemployment rolls as of Dec. 26 rose by 7% to 46,000.