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Missouri sees second straight week of skyrocketing unemployment

ABC 17 News


More than 95,000 Missourians filed unemployment claims last week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to swamp the economy.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 96,734 Missourians filed initial claims last week, up nearly 55,000 from the massive number of claims filed the week before, according to numbers published Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of new claims is not seasonally adjusted.

Numbers reported by the state were even more dire. The state labor department reported 104,230 new claims, up from 42,207 the week before. Before the COVID-19 pandemic picked up strength, about 3,000 people were filing for unemployment each week.

More than 89,000 of those new claims were related to COVID-19, the state said in a news release.

State leaders have said the number of claims two weeks ago represented about 30 percent of the total claims for all of 2019. The latest report more than doubled that number of initial claims.

The employment picture in Missouri is similar to the one nationwide. The Labor Department said 6.6. million people filed claims nationwide last week -- a new record. The number was more than 3,000 percent greater than those seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missouri has directed extra resources to process the crush of unemployment claims and relaxed regulations on getting unemployment payments. The COVID-19 stimulus bill passed by Congress includes up to $600 extra per week for unemployed workers and extends the amount of time workers can draw unemployment.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ordered March 21 that all restaurants switch to pickup, delivery and drive-thru only, leading many of those businesses to lay off workers. Some counties also have stay-at-home orders in place closing non-essential businesses to the public.

Parson said Thursday at his daily COVID-19 online news conference that the crush of claims is overwhelming state resources.

"We are very aware of the fact that people are struggling to get through to the Department of Labor," Parson said.

He said the department is receiving more than 100,000 calls each day.

State health officials have confirmed at least 1,581 cases of COVID-19 with 18 deaths. The first of those deaths occurred in Boone County.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


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