Increasing number of Mississippians file for unemployment during COVID-19 pandemic

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi had more than 600,000 people file for unemployment at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). Now, the state stands at approximately 100,000 weekly certifications.

The unemployment rate in October sits at 7.4 percent. Prior to the pandemic, that number dipped at 5.4 percent and as low as 4.7 percent. All things to consider in managing unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic.

MDES Executive Director Jackie Turner said since March, the state has paid out from it’s Mississippi Unemployment Trust Fund, the CARES Act Program and the Lost Wages Assistance Program.

They’ve paid out more than $3.1 billion in unemployment benefits; money that would go back into Mississippi’s economy.

A couple of programs are slated to end by the end of the year related to the CARES Act Program: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Extended Unemployment. A projected 65,000 to 70,000 people stand to lose their unemployment benefits that are currently on one of those programs.

“We all hope that this would end quicker than it has. It’s been a long year for everyone,” said Turner.

Turner said she’d like to see the same or similar stimulus package that is currently in place pass. Thus, benefits would get out to those who need it quicker.

Officials stressed programs outside of the regular unemployment program that MDES administers through Mississippi Trust Fund without congressional action. Any unemployment after December 31 will be under state laws.

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