South Dakota turns down extra $300-a-week unemployment benefits from Trump administration

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem rejected the federal government’s offer of an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits and touted her state’s economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic.

My administration is very grateful for the additional flexibility that this effort would have provided, but South Dakota is in the fortunate position of not needing to accept it,” Noem said in a statement on Friday. “South Dakota’s economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses. South Dakota is the only state in the nation that didn’t have extended benefits kick in because our insured unemployment rate has been the lowest in the nation.”

 

Some Republicans decried the now-expired $600-per-week federally enhanced unemployment benefits as an incentive for Americans to stay home even as businesses reopened and looked for workers.

President Trump’s executive order, announced earlier in August, required states to pay for 25% of $400 weekly unemployment benefits, while the federal government would pay for 75%. On Tuesday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow indicated the administration would consider any $100 in unemployment insurance a state contribution that activated the $300 from the federal government.

FILE – In this June 22, 2020 file photo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Sioux Falls city hall in Sioux Falls, S.D. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves File)

“We modified slightly the mechanics of the deal,” Kudlow said. “States can still, if they put another $100 in to raise the benefit more generally, that’s fine. … Any state who put in $100 before, and every state did, they will then qualify for the extra $300.”

 

The Trump administration walked back its plan to require states to chip in for enhanced unemployment benefits after an outcry from governors, including Gavin Newsom of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Arkansas’ Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson and Cuomo, a Republican and a Democrat, wrote that they were “concerned about the significant administrative burdens and costs this latest action would place on the states” earlier in August.

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