Kansas, Missouri see sharp increase in jobless claims due to COVID-19

Labor Department says it saw an increase of 3 million unemployment claims last week
Posted at 11:27 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 12:27:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Both Kansas and Missouri saw a drastic spike in unemployment claims last week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to force layoffs and slow down the economy.

In Missouri, 40,508 people filed initial unemployment claims during the week that ended March 21, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. The week prior, 4,016 had filed jobless claims, marking an increase of 36,492 claims in a single week.

The increase in jobless claims was even more staggering in Kansas, where 23,687 filed for unemployment last week, compared with 1,755 the week before — an overall increase of nearly 1,250%.

It was a similar story across the United States. According to the Labor Department, an additional 3.2 million people sought unemployment claims between March 14 and March 21, shattering a previous record set in 1982.

Layoffs are sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into what most economists expect to be deep and painful recession.

Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have closed factories.

In both Kansas and Missouri, the sharp increase in unemployment applications are causing state agency websites to crash. Some have reported issues reaching anyone through the state’s unemployment phone lines.

In an effort to allow people to access benefits sooner, both states have waived the one-week waiting period before a person can receive benefits for those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.