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Initial Missouri unemployment claims increase tenfold amid COVID-19 pandemic

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Last week saw the greatest number of initial unemployment claims ever in the United States, with initial claims in Missouri increasing tenfold, according to figures released Thursday morning.

According to a Department of Labor release, the week ending Saturday "marked the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series."

Gov. Mike Parson and Anna Hui, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, announced a major increase in the number of unemployment claims on Wednesday at Parson's daily COVID-19 news conference.

Parson and Hui said Wednesday that the number of unemployment claims filed last week is equal to 30 percent of the total filed throughout 2019.

Officials said workers have been laid off because of businesses that have closed or seen a slowing in sales thanks to COVID-19.

About 3.3 million initial unemployment claims were filed across the country last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. That was an increase of about 3 million from the week before.

Missouri's total claims jumped about tenfold, from 4,016 to 40,508. Initial state numbers for last week are not seasonally adjusted.

The nationwide weekly filings were the highest number since 1982.

Peter Mueser, an economic professor at the University of Missouri said what has happened in the last two weeks is extraordinary all over the country. employees that had stable jobs have now been laid off or cut off, which makes a large portion of those people eligible for unemployment.

Mueser said this large amount speaks to how unusual and quick this crisis affected the entire world.

“We are facing a very dramatic economic downturn,” said Mueser. “As a result of the COVID-19 in the US, and it's going to be if we're really lucky economic activity will be reduced for two to three months. And it could be reduced. A lot.”

The Department of Labor's release also stated that the unemployment rate for March 9th through the 14th is 1.2%. Meuser said with the number of jobs that were lost just last week that number will increase substantially.

Though the number of new claims will soon stop growing because the people who are going to lose their jobs have most likely already lost them, but the number of people receiving unemployment will still be high.

Mueser said economists don't know when things will pick up and that it's going to be hard to tell. 

“If we looked at many recessions it takes at least a few weeks for them to hit,” said Mueser. “And this one has in a very short period of time. People have been told to stay inside and you've curtailed. A lot of economic activity, very quickly.”

Cody Boggs, a branch manager at Express Employment Professionals sais he thinks the unemployment rate will continue to climb during this time.

"There are several companies in the area that have had to layoff workers due to low productivity or having to shut down the business entirely as this is not sustainable for long periods of time," said Boggs.

Boggs said they are letting those affected businesses know that they can be a resource as there are temporary positions that can sustain their employees for the next four to six weeks so that they can continue to get a paycheck.

Express Employment Professionals are working to place employees in the businesses that have been deemed essential.

“There's been an influx in need," said Boggs. "Because especially in, for example for grocery stores or for department stores those types of businesses that have a shortage of workers to restock their shelves. they're there needing workers immediately, and we can help provide those workers quickly.”

Jefferson City Medical Group is no exception to businesses that have been affected as its patient visits and procedures are down 60 to 70%.

JCMP released that 38 of their employees were laid off and physician shareholders voted to decrease their own salaries by 50% to protect jobs and still provide care during this pandemic.

Check back for more on this developing story here and on ABC 17 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Coronavirus / Mid-Missouri Business / Missouri / Top Stories
Amber Tabeling

Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.

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