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MDES leaders: new coronavirus aid package is needed

With unemployment numbers at a record high in the state of Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) is busier than it has ever been.

On Tuesday morning, MDES executive director Jackie Turner and MDES director of reemployment assistance Timothy Rush joined The Gallo Show to talk about the 2,900 percent increase in weekly unemployment claims since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Since this began four or five weeks ago, we have taken over 120,000 initial claims,” Turner said. “On a normal week, we took 1,000 or less.”

With the unemployment number rapidly growing every, single day, the MDES has not only added a new call center but also extra employees in an attempt to accommodate the workload.

“On a normal week prior to the pandemic, we paid out an unemployment insurance benefit about 1.3 million [dollars] or less,” Turner said. “Yesterday, between the normal unemployment we pay out in Mississippi and part of the CARES Act unemployment, we paid out 56 million dollars.”

As of now, Congress is working towards implementing a new coronavirus aid package. This additional money would be vital for unemployment departments such as MDES.

“It would impact us positively in terms of funding so that we can continue to ramp up our system, our phone lines, and hire personnel where needed,” Rush said. “I do think that it will help the employer community where they’re able to sustain their payrolls and keep people on payroll and also sustain those individuals who are not able to get back to work.”

Congress could vote on the additional package as soon as this afternoon. To hear the full interview with Rush and Turner, check out the video below.

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