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As unemployment claims spike, changes have been made to help Americans stay afloat


As unemployment numbers across the state and country remain sky-high, there are many resources for individuals under the federal COVID-19 stimulus package.

Missouri reported 91,049 new jobless claims for the week ending Saturday, down from about 104,000 a week before. Nationally, around 6.6 million American's filed for unemployment for the second week in a row.

According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, 229,298 people have filed for unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak as of Thursday afternoon. Boone County racked up 5,793 of those claims through Sunday, and Cole County saw 2,077 claims.

Truman Wealth Advisors owner Mindy McCubbin said these are tricky financial times for all, not just businesses and non-profits.

"It can be scary for people, especially if they don't know where to turn or what to do," McCubbin said.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, includes assistance for individuals who may have lost work or income because of the crisis by expanding unemployment benefits.

McCubbin said the first thing people should do if they lose their job during the pandemic is to see what help is available.

Under the CARES Act, self-employed and part-time workers are eligible to apply for unemployment. Those who are approved for unemployment can also receive an additional $600 a week for up to four months

The CARES Act also allows those who are paying back student loans to defer payments and interest for up to six months, which McCubbin said can provide relief to many people's monthly budgets.

Another option under the act is being able to take up to a $100,000 draw from an IRA or 401k and pay it back over three years. McCubbin said that should be used as a last resort if someone is really in a financial crisis.

"In most cases, you should treat your 401k like your face and just don't touch it," McCubbin said.

Help isn't just coming from the government right now. McCubbin said many auto-insurance companies are providing rebates as drivers are forced to stay at home. She said credit card companies are also jumping in to help, and if people are worried about making payments, to give the company a call.

"What I'm seeing is that mortgage companies, bankers, insurance companies are all trying to work with people to really ease the burden and ease the stress that people are going through right now," McCubbin said.

While those who have lost their job and income because of the crisis should be reaching out for help, McCubbin said people who still have income and stability should make sure they have an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses ready.

McCubbin said it will be hard to avoid the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and normalcy will likely come well after the stay-at-home orders lift.

"We're going to all have to pull together to restart the big engine that is the U.S. economy, and that may look messy because it is such a large piece of the global economic engine," she said.

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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