Mississippi’s end to pandemic unemployment can boost local businesses but some residents rely on that extra money


GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Mississippi and Alabama will stop accepting supplemental unemployment benefits from the federal government starting in June.

On Monday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said the move to halt the $300 federal supplement was made with the goal of moving closer to complete economic recovery and filling the thousands of available jobs in the state.

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“[He should] put himself in the shoes of a mother who’s got two children, one who’s not very healthy and a 1-year-old during a pandemic,” said Macon resident Kirstie McBrayer, who tells WCBI that she relies on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funding on a daily basis.

Bart Wood, the owner of The Little Dooey in Starkville, says the past six to seven weeks have been particularly challenging for them.

“We had people working double-time, working hours they normally don’t work, pulling other shifts, ” he said. “So, it’s been a challenging time but we’ve made it through.”

Wood says he and other business owners have been trying a number of methods to attract employees however they can.

“People offering that you bring your pay stub in and we’ll beat it by x amount,” he offered as an example. “You see more money thrown at qualified, well-qualified individuals.”

But McBrayer says she has a limited number of options when it comes to finding work.

“I personally do not have a high school diploma, due to a disability of being dyslexic,” she said. “I cannot understand half of the things that I read.”

She also says the fear of spreading the disease to her children prevents her from working other jobs. She says the extra unemployment pay for her son’s 12 to 13 different medications.

“My son’s immune system is not working properly,” she said. “A common cold could kill him. And there’s no work for me until the pandemic is basically completely gone.”

Wood says he thinks this can be beneficial for businesses as more people begin looking for jobs.

“I think we’ll have people knocking on the door wanting to work,” he said. “I think it’ll be a positive step.”

But McBrayer says the governor should’ve considered the different situations facing every Mississippian.

“How can he sit here and do what he’s doing and think that that’s going to benefit and help his people,” she asked.

Governor Reeves has also said that they will once again be enforcing the requirement for a person to document that he or she is looking for a job in order to receive unemployment.