SPRINGFIELD, Mo. If you have been laid off or lost your job because of the coronavirus crisis, you may be wondering and worrying about how to go about filing for unemployment benefits in the state of Missouri.
Tip #1- Just like so many other things these days, you can't do it in-person.
Tip #2- You can do it by phone, but you'll probably be frustrated and sorry you tried. The numbers in the Springfield area are (417) 895-6851 or 1-800-320-2519 and they are very busy. When I tried the voicemail barely got me to hold before it said all operators were so busy it would be best to try back at another time. Good luck.
Tip #3- Every official we talked to said the best way to get it done by far is online. You can file 24/7 at uinteract.labor.mo.gov.
The website includes videos on what you'll need to file for unemployment and who qualifies. But basically if your employer shut down or laid you off because of the coronavirus crisis, you probably qualify.
You're not eligible if you got fired for performance reasons or are on sick leave, vacation or family medical leave pay.
When you file make sure you have your social security number, total earnings from the past week, bank information and the names, addresses and dates of all your past employment places.
Missouri provides benefits for up to 20 weeks but you'll have to file a request for payment each week.
One of the requirements for collecting unemployment is that you have to search for a job during your time off. However, if you've been laid off due to the coronavirus crisis that requirement can be waived.
As for finding another job, the Missouri Job Center on Sunshine St. in Springfield is closed to the public right now but is still helping people find work.
"This is a different way of doing business for us so we're adapting," said Kathy Trombetta, the Communications Coordinator for the job center. "We're still here. We're still available by phone (417-887-4343) or e-mail to answer questions and as soon as we're given the all clear that it is safe to open we're re-open our doors and be here to serve people in-person."
You can get in touch with the job center and find posts on jobs available at https://www.facebook.com/SGFJobCenter/ and at www.springfieldmo.gov/workforcedevelopment.
You may think there's little or no jobs to be found but according to Trombetta it depends on the industry.
"There are companies that are ramping up hiring right now because of the increased demand of home delivery. There's also healthcare, manufacturing and pharmacies," she said. "Check our Facebook page. We have a list of companies that are still hiring."
And please remember to be patient, keep positive and be flexible because times are changing.
"A lot of the hiring practices are changing," Trombetta pointed out. "They are taking applications online and doing interviews by phone but for the essential businesses, they are still hiring."
If you live in Arkansas you can go to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services website to file at dws.arkansas.gov/unemployment.
According to the governor's Wednesday news briefing Arkansas had 9,000 claims filed last week, 8,000 claims this week so far and 700 filed Wednesday morning alone.
The wait time by phone in Arkansas was over 25 minutes and the online system is getting upgrades to make it work better.