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Unemployment Benefits

April 24, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Elena Bickell

A person who is actively seeking employment and is unable to find work may be eligible for unemployment benefits. In the 2022 session, several bills have been introduced relating to unemployment including: the maximum duration for an individual to receive unemployment benefits to be based on the Missouri average unemployment rate (SB 665); extending the length of unemployment benefits in Missouri (HB 1729); and adjustment of the total amount of wages derived from severance pay (SB 1114). 


  • Each state has unemployment programs and their policies vary by state.
    • Unemployment benefits are determined by a number of parameters, such as the cost of living in that state.
    • Missouri ranks 44th in benefits paid to the unemployed workers ($320 per week), 44th for the unemployment duration (20 weeks), and 48th in the cost of living in the state.
  • Increasing the duration of unemployment benefits reduces the likelihood of leaving unemployment, particularly for low-wealth households.
  • The amount of unemployment weekly pay can affect job search behavior of the unemployed. Other factors, such as amount, mode of distribution, and timing have an influence on the unemployment duration.


Although research agrees that lower lengths of unemployment duration tend to incentivize workers to find jobs faster (and thus exit unemployment), it has not been determined if a shorter benefit duration causes unemployed workers to accept “lower quality” jobs.

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