Missouri House passes bill that could reduce unemployment insurance benefits period to eight weeks during low unemployment

The Missouri House of Representatives passed House Bill 1860 94-41 on April 14, which would reduce the maximum length of unemployment insurance benefits to eight weeks during times of low unemployment. Missouri’s current program indexes unemployment insurance benefits, meaning it provides shorter periods of benefits during times of low unemployment and longer periods of benefits during times of high unemployment.

Currently, the state’s shortest benefits period is 13 weeks when Missouri’s unemployment rate is below 6%. The longest benefits period is 20 weeks if unemployment is 9% or higher. The following list breaks down Missouri’s current benefits period index:

  • 20 weeks of benefits if Missouri’s unemployment rate is 9% or higher
  • 19 weeks for unemployment higher than 8.5% and lower than 9%
  • 18 weeks for unemployment of 8%-8.5%
  • 17 weeks for unemployment higher than 7.5% and lower than 8%
  • 16 weeks for unemployment of 7%-7.5%;
  • 15 weeks for unemployment higher than 6.5% and lower than 7%;
  • 14 weeks for unemployment of 6%-6.5%;
  • 13 weeks for unemployment below 6%.

HB 1860 would add the following indexing categories:

  • 13 weeks for unemployment higher than 5.5% up to 6%;
  • 12 weeks for unemployment higher than 5% up to 5.5%;
  • 11 weeks for unemployment higher than 4.5% up to 5%;
  • 10 weeks for unemployment higher than 4% up to 4.5%;
  • 9 weeks for unemployment higher than 3.5% up to 4%; and
  • 8 weeks for unemployment of 3.5% or less.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. If the Senate passes the bill and the governor signs it into law, the changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

Unemployment insurance refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

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