ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Restaurants, dry cleaners, and a few retail shops along Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur have “help wanted” signs in the window. Missouri Governor Mike Parson cites what he calls a labor shortage as the reason for ending federal benefits next month.
There are many job openings in the St. Louis area, according to Amy Barber, owner of Express Employment Professionals. Her three offices in the St. Louis area help connect job seekers with employment.
“I think you’re going to see people wanting to take this opportunity to change positions and learn new skills,” said Barber. “A lot of our clients are very interested in people that are willing to learn new skills, and they will train them.”
She applauded the governor’s decision and said some job seekers have openly admitted they would be better off taking benefits than working. The added federal benefits were put in place to help workers laid off during the pandemic and resulted in a $300 a week payment.
Others are critical of the governor’s decision. They cite workers’ concerns about the pandemic as a reason some of them have not returned to the workforce.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones stated through a social media post, “Want to get people back to work? Pay them a minimum of $15/hr”.
Stripping unemployment benefits just to force Missourians into jobs without a living wage or benefits will only increase the burden of poverty on our working families.
Want to get people back to work? Pay them a minimum of $15/hr.
— Mayor Tishaura O. Jones (@saintlouismayor) May 11, 2021
Congresswoman Cori Bush condemned the decision to end the federal benefits stating they helped communities in her district remain healthy, fed and housed.
Paul Duffy is part of the family-owned Mike Duffy’s Pub and Grill. The sports bar has three locations in the St. Louis area. He said restaurants across the region have needed help finding workers.
“We’re working with temp agencies and we’re working with groups that help guys get jobs that are coming out of prison,” Duffy said.
Parson announced the added federal benefit for unemployed Missourians will end June 12.
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