January 26, 2023 Less than a minute read

Missouri Chamber supports legislation to modify unemployment benefits

A state Senate committee is considering legislation that would incentivize unemployed Missourians to rejoin the workforce.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter (R-Jefferson City) is the sponsor of SB 21. At a recent hearing of the Senate General Laws Committee, which Sen. Bernskoetter chairs, the senator told committee members that under current law, the maximum duration for an individual to receive unemployment benefits is 20 weeks. 

SB 21 modifies the duration an individual can receive unemployment benefits by creating a sliding scale model that would tie the length of unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. The duration would range from a high of 20 weeks if the Missouri unemployment rate is higher than 9% to 8 weeks if the unemployment rate is at or below 3.5%.

“Businesses and employers have expressed that is impossible to find employees,” Sen. Bernskoetter told his fellow committee members. “Local businesses are reporting that only one or two employees are showing up for work or that workers will only work a day or two before going back on unemployment.”

Sen. Bernskoetter is a small business owner himself and said he has had trouble trying to find employees.

Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Director of Legislative Affairs Heidi Sutherland testified that the Missouri Chamber supports Sen. Bernskoetter’s bill, saying, “We believe today’s current labor shortages create an urgent need to pass this legislation.”

“When jobs are scarce, Missourians would receive the full 20 weeks of unemployment, but when jobs are plentiful, like right now, the benefits would end much sooner, encouraging Missourians to re-enter the workforce,” Sutherland added.

A similar bill, HB 726 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Knight (R-Lebanon), has been introduced in the Missouri House.

For more information, contact Sutherland at hsutherland@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.

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