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Missourians brace for end of federal unemployment benefits

Cynthia Shively
Posted at 10:47 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 15:14:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — These days, just like her daughter, Cynthia Shively has homework of her own.

She's searching for a job.

"I work very hard for what I have," Shively said. "I work very hard to support my children."

The single mother of three works in the auto industry making interiors for vehicles. But supply chain issues have slowed production and sent her to the unemployment line.

"It's an immense help," Shively said. "Even with the weekly unemployment plus the federal help, it's still less than what I make at my job."

And with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announcing Tuesday that federal COVID-19 pandemic unemployment benefits will end June 12, she's bracing for what's to come.

"I could do food service, I could do those things, but I'd have to work three, four jobs, to pay for my home, to pay for food for my children to pay their insurance," Shively said.

Parson said he believes there's a labor shortage and hopes ending the extra unemployment money will push people back to work.

Shively, however, said the current labor force is "being flooded by people who also don't have work."

"It's not that there's a labor shortage – there's a job shortage," she said. "And there's not just a job shortage, but the jobs aren't paying what people need."

Locally, Workforce Partnership helps connects people with jobs.

"So we are seeing a wage increase in a lot of areas, perhaps not in all areas," Keely Schneider, executive director of Workforce Partnership, said. "Certainly, that's not every employer. But those employers that can still make that happen and still run their businesses productively and efficiently are doing that."

The organization anticipated an increase of clients as businesses reopened, but that hasn't happened.

"The market is good. This is when you should be looking for those jobs," Schneider said. "There are some incredible benefits out there. There are signing bonuses, there are increased wages."

Schneider said she expects to see an influx in the workforce around September as people figure out child care and schools get back to normal.