Audio: Proposal approved in Missouri House would slash unemployment benefits by 7 weeks


A proposal approved in the Missouri House would have an immediate impact on unemployed workers if it becomes law.



The availability of their unemployment payments would be slashed by seven weeks, effectively ranking Missouri third among states offering the least amount of time to collect the benefits. Missouri now offers 20 weeks of jobless pay.

The proposal passed by the House calls for a sliding scale of available weeks, triggered by the unemployment rate. If the rate was nine percent or higher, workers would receive the current 20 weeks of benefits. The eight graduated levels would bottom out at 13 weeks when the rate is under six percent. The most recent figures place the state’s unemployment at 3.4% percent, which means that if the law was in place now, jobless numbers would have to dramatically increase for the window of time to collect unemployment benefits to rise even a week.

If the bill becomes law, Missouri would join five other states that base the availability of jobless benefits on the unemployment rate. The proposal from Republican Representative Scott Fitzpatrick of Shell Knob is intended to stabilize Missouri’s Unemployment Trust Fund which has to borrow money from the federal government in each of the last five recessions.