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State Department of Labor reports historic unemployment numbers due to COVID-19 pandemic


The Missouri Department of Labor says more than 400,000 initial unemployment claims were filed between March 15 and April 18.

The department's director, Anna Hui, reported the historic numbers during the governor's daily briefing on Wednesday.

The state would typically process 2,300 to 3,000 initial claims per week this time of year. Since the pandemic began last month the state has twice gone over the 100,000 mark.

Of the over 400,000 claims, Hui said well over 76 percent of people have received some sort of payment. That percent equals over half a billion dollars in payments, including the federal supplement of $600.

And with many Missouri employers getting back to business May 4, the department laid out guidelines about who would be eligible.

According to Hui, "general fear of COVID-19" will not be covered under unemployment. If an employer asks an employee to come back to work in a safe manner, and the employee refuses, he or she will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Hui said they have not outlined guidelines for businesses and employers to follow.

"I think we would follow the Department of Health and Senior Services in terms of their guidance as well as the CDC in terms of that," Hui said. "For any issue in terms of workplace safety, the U.S. Department of Labor has resources for businesses and employees."

The Missouri Department of Labor is working on a portal for employers to report employees that refuse to return to work. Hui said more information on that is expected to come out later in the week.

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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