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Protesters gather in downtown Springfield, stand against the end of pandemic unemployment benefits in Missouri

Published: Jun. 12, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Federal unemployment benefits that were established to help people through the COVID-19 pandemic ended Saturday in Missouri. A group of protesters rallied in downtown Springfield against the decision.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced last month that June 12 would mark the end to such benefits, providing an extra $300 per week to those unemployed in Missouri.

The decision comes in an attempt to push people back to work and address labor shortages. Parson said business owners in Missouri are struggling to fill jobs as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Continuing these programs only worsens the workforce issues we are currently facing,” said Gov. Parson. “It’s time that we end these programs that incentivize people to stay out of the workforce.”

Several people met at Park Central Square in Springfield to voice their displeasure about the decision.

”Appalled, but not surprised. This kind of thing happens over and over again because we put the profits of businesses before people’s needs. We’re not taking care of one another, and not taking care of our neighbors, even as we’re coming through a pandemic that isn’t really over,” said protester Alice Barber

Protesters say that they are not only fighting against Gov. Parson’s decision, but for worker’s rights.

”It’s pretty clear that there’s no labor shortage, there is a shortage of businesses that will pay their workers a living wage. Right now, it really seems like they’re unwilling to compete.” said protester Josh Mayfield. “They are unwilling to raise the wage for people to come off unemployment.”

Protester Lucy Mayfield says she has been actively job searching for months.

“Wages aren’t very high and I’ll apply to 50 jobs and never hear back some times. So it can be very frustrating to have to deal with this idea of just get a better job and get a higher paying job that doesn’t exist and the ones that do exist won’t call people back,” said Mayfield.

Missouri is one of 25 states that are ending pandemic federal unemployment benefits on June 12. The federal program is not scheduled to end until September 6, 2021.

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