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State Labor Department and community organizations overwhelmed trying to assist spike in unemployed


As the number of people applying for unemployment across the country and state continues to race upward, organizations trying to help are also feeling the heat.

While the federal Labor Department said a record-breaking 6.6. million people filed claims nationwide last week, Missouri's labor department reported 104,230 new claims, up from 42,207 the week before.

Gov. Mike Parson addressed the growing concerns during is his daily COVID-19 online news conference. Parson said the state labor department has been receiving more than 100,000 calls each day, which is overwhelming state resources.

The state department of labor said Thursday the Division of Employment Security has hired temporary workers and pulled staff from other areas to help ensure workers receive their benefits as soon as possible.

The department said many calls have come in about the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) which expands unemployment benefits. The state must wait for guidance from the federal level before any changes are made.

"We expect this guidance very soon and like thousands of Missourians, we’re anxiously awaiting word from our federal partners so that we can provide the new benefits as quickly as possible.”

Chris Slinkard, DES Director

Non-profit organizations are also taking a hit as they help Missourians who have lost their jobs or source of income.

Major Nancy Holloway, the area coordinator for the Central Missouri Salvation Army, said the organization has shut the doors to its thrift stores and is losing out on other funding as well.

"This is affecting our donors as well," Holloway said. "We're hopeful as we reach out to United Way, we're writing some grants, trying to do some fundraising and we have some organizations that are doing fundraising for us as well."

With the limited budget, the organization is still operating its food pantry and offering assistance to those who may need help with rent and utilities.

She said there are several families and individuals who came forward asking for assistance paying rent.

"Yesterday rent came due and they had those notices from their employers that they have been laid off or that their hours had been limited," Holloway said. "And individuals that are working paycheck to paycheck for their finances, they are calling and saying 'what do I do now?'"

Holloway said the Salvation Army is working with many of the same people who were displaced or financially burdened by the disasters that hit Mid-Missouri last summer.

"We're dealing with families that were affected by the flooding last year that are just now getting back on their feet," Holloway said. "And now they are getting knocked down again."

But funds are limited across the board. Holloway said her organization is only working with individuals whose jobs have been affected by COVID-19.

In Jefferson City, the organization receives funding from the United Way, which helps provide families with rent and utility assistance.

"We're even including internet and phone because they need that right now for school for the kids," Holloway said. "If they show a true need, we're taking that into consideration."

In Columbia, Holloway said the Salvation Army does not receive any local funding but has a small amount of private funding to help with similar needs.

Holloway said the Salvation Army is accepting food and monetary donations. Individuals can designate that they would like the money to go toward COVID-19 relief. You can also donate to the organization on their website.

Check back for more or watch ABC 17 News at 9 on KQFX and 10 on KMIZ for a full report.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.


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