Federal unemployment benefits, what many call a lifeline, ending this weekend in Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This weekend, Missouri is ending pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits. That includes $300 people are used to getting each week.

The state said it’s to get people back to work. Others argue it’s a lifeline being cut off. 

“The federal benefits, the enhanced benefits have really been like a lifesaver to me,” Angela Veach said. “So we were all expected to come back to work, but that didn’t end up happening.”

Veach was furloughed in May 2020 and permanently laid off that October because of the pandemic. Since then, she’s applied for hundreds of jobs, but hasn’t found the right fit. 

“Pay more than $10 an hour. You know people can’t live on that. And 40 hours a week and benefits,” she said.

Veach said she and thousands of other Missourians get $325 for state unemployment each week. With the enhanced federal benefit, it totals to $625.

She said it’s keeping her family afloat. 

“It’s helped me keep my mortgage paid,” Veach said, “and pay my bills and, you know, I have a son.”

After Saturday, the federal money goes away for Missourians.

Gov. Mike Parson said Missouri will stop participating in six federal pandemic-related unemployment programs — that includes the $300 a week. He said it’s to get people back to work.

David Melhorn, the general manager at Los Cabos, said he still struggles to find staff. They offer competitive pay and benefits but still have 18 open positions. 

He hopes the end of some of the unemployment benefits will help him employ people and finally take down the “Now Hiring” sign.

“It’s been tough,” Melhorn said. “For quite a long time, but even tougher now that it’s been since they’ve gotten the extra benefits from the government.”

Other local business owners FOX4 talked to said they’ve had employees call and ask for a job because the extra money is going away.

“We need to get them back to work,” Melhorn said. “If you look at it, just in Missouri, there’s over 200,000 job postings out there right now for people.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly hasn’t made any final decisions about stopping the extra federal unemployment benefits.

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