Missourians left scrambling as COVID unemployment benefits end this week, three months early.

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Missouri workers continue to get the short-end of the stick at the hand of Governor Mike Parson. Ending federal unemployment benefits for Missourians is a cruel punishment for workers struggling to make ends meet while waiting for the economy and their jobs to recover from the global pandemic. 

Despite the Governor falsely insisting that “labor shortages resulting from these excessive federal unemployment programs” are the cause of a slow pandemic recovery, many workers have been unable to secure well-paying jobs with benefits and reliable schedules, while others in industries like hospitality are still waiting to return to work as the pandemic continues to impact their workplaces. 

“Industries like ours are recovering slowly as we wait for others to be more confident in traveling and groups to start booking rooms again,” says Lisa Jones, a member of UNITE HERE 74 and seventeen-year employee of the Renaissance hotel in downtown St. Louis. “ How am I expected to take care of my family until the company I’ve worked for nearly 20 years opens back up again? The Governor is forcing us to find temporary, low-wage work or starve.” 

“The Governor and state lawmakers have waged war on Missouri workers and their families for too long,” says Richard von Glahn, policy director of Missouri Jobs with Justice. “Ending COVID benefits hurts those most in need. Gov. Parson should be focused on finding ways to help Missourians get back on their feet, not forcing them to take low-paying jobs with no benefits and inflexible schedules.”

The pandemic is also far from over. Two Missouri counties are seeing the worst COVID-19 surges in the country and the state’s COVID vaccine rate is well below the national average which could indicate the state is headed back into a crisis. 

Other states across the country, including our neighboring states to the east and west, will continue the benefits through the September deadline. 

“The state is just beginning its recovery from the global pandemic. If ripping benefits away from those in need is Gov. Parson’s attempt at helping get Missouri back on track, this is a terrible plan,” says Jessica Pace, Executive Director of Progress MO.