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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation preserving a program that encourages businesses to place employees on part-time status instead of laying them off.

The measure enacted Friday is intended to keep Missouri in compliance with new federal requirements for the shared-work program.

Nixon said about 335 employers and more than 21,000 people currently participate in the program. It allows businesses to split working hours among a group of employees as an alternative to laying some of them off. In exchange, the employees' incomes are supplemented with reduced amounts of unemployment benefits.

Missouri's program had to be revised to match federal guidelines, or else it would have ended in August.

Business groups supported the legislation, which could allow Missouri to get an additional $2.5 million in federal funds.

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Shared-work bill is SB844.

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