JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missourians receiving unemployment insurance will receive an additional $600 a week as early as next week, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced.
The $600 weekly federal supplement is a part of the coronavirus aid package Congress passed in late March. Anyone receiving at least $1 of unemployment insurance in a week will receive the $600 supplement that week, according to a news release from the department.
The supplement is all federal funds, and it will be paid on top of the state’s unemployment benefits, which are funded by a tax on Missouri employers. Missouri will make the payments retroactive for anyone who received benefits this week or last week, starting March 29. The supplemental payments are currently set to end the week of July 25.
State officials had previously said they were waiting for federal guidance on how to implement the program, and that guidance came on Sunday, according to the news release.
The department also received guidance on another part of the federal aid package, which created a separate unemployment program for people not eligible for regular benefits, including contractors, people who are self-employed and agricultural workers. That program will take longer to set up, according to the release.
Only people who have lost their job due to no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, so most people who quit or are fired for performance can’t receive benefits. If an employer offers employees paid leave instead of laying workers off, then someone who quits would not be eligible for unemployment insurance.
The department’s online portal is the best way to file unemployment insurance claims, and it’s available 24 hours a day. The department can also process claims over the phone at 573-751-9040, but it’s urging anyone who can file online to do that so staff working on the phones can file claims for people who don’t have internet access.
The department has waived the one-week waiting period, so people who are laid off should file their claims as soon as possible so they can be processed and benefits sent out quickly.
Newly unemployed Missourians filed 146,437 initial unemployment claims in the two weeks between March 8 and 21, more than 80% of the 179,831 initial claims filed in all of 2019.
The effects of COVID-19 and social distancing are causing food service and hospitality businesses to lay off the most workers at a time they would typically be hiring to prepare for spring and summer tourism. People who lost work in food service, accommodation, manufacturing and retail account for 57% of the initial claims filed those two weeks in Missouri.
Few industries have avoided the effects of COVID-19, but some jobs are available in warehousing, retail and information technology, according to the Missouri Office of Workforce Development. The office is operating its job centers over the phone and can offer callers help with everything from filing benefit claims to finding job-training programs. The phone number is 888-728-5627.