Missourians react to COVID unemployment benefits ending

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Time is up for thousands of unemployed Missourians relying on COVID-relief.

The pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits for Missourians ended on Saturday night, June 12.

Governor Mike Parson made this announcement a month ago.

As of April, the unemployment rate here in Missouri was roughly 4%.

In Springfield it’s 3% and Taney county sits at the highest at 9%.

Now that benefits end Saturday night, people are left scrambling to find a way to make an income.

As the pandemic has subsided, many people are looking to get back to normal.

For some, that normal includes getting a job.

“These are people with families. And the important issue for them is to understand that they’re looking for work to provide for their families,” John Shearman who is unemployed said.

Shearman has applied to roughly 1,200 jobs.

“It’s difficult getting the no’s,” Shearman said

Unemployed Missourians will no longer get the additional $300 per week from the federal government.

Some say the amount they will get from the state each week isn’t enough.

Gov. Parson hopes ending the benefits will get people back to work.

“While these benefits offer a necessary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19 they were intended to be temporary,” Gov. Parson said. “It’s time that we end these programs that have incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.”

“People come in on a day to day basis to apply for jobs.”

Tammy Flippen is a reference librarian at the Library Center.

She helps out with job applications.

“A lot of people don’t have internet access at home,” Flippen said. “And some people need some assistance with the computers. You know everything is electronic now.”

And the most common question she gets is about how to apply online.

Tony Lopez used to be an independent contractor before the pandemic.

He’s never worked an hourly job.

“I’ve relied on that income,” Lopez said. You know I’ve centered my life around that income.”

Homeowners are starting to hire contractors again.

But, Lopez just wants to provide for himself.

“I pay my bills and eat. I have nothing left over at the end of the month,” Lopez said.

A worry that keeps him up at night.

Missouri is one of four state that ended unemployment benefits on Saturday.

The American Rescue Plan will end on Sept. 6.

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