ST. LOUIS — Missouri would have trouble paying unemployment claims if Covid-19 shutdowns extended for months or employment levels do not rebound.
That's according to an analysis by the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank. It said that as of April 11, Missouri could pay out 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits. Tax Foundation said it drew "from the most recent fund financial data and claims figures, taking into account payments already made..."
The state of Missouri said its unemployment insurance trust fund balance stood at $1.02 billion as of March 31, and more than 339,000 Missourians filed for unemployment from mid-March to April 11, an unprecedented figure. The state and federal government will report new unemployment figures Thursday morning.
Tax Foundation said that although state funds are more prepared today than during the Great Recession, "the bad news is that some estimates of unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic have it far outstripping job losses during the Great Recession, and even if the worst estimates prove overly pessimistic, no one can doubt that state (unemployment insurance) funds face a financial reckoning."
A solution in dire circumstances could come from the federal government, which is already spending heavily to combat the economic effects of virus shutdowns, including an extra $600 a week in unemployment. (State funds aren't responsible for that CARES Act add-on, set to expire at the end of June.)