Unemployment claims rose week before last, from 775 to 911. That’s a ninth of the number of claims received in the worst early week of the coronavirus recession, but it’s 6.6 times more than the number of UI claims South Dakota received a year and a week ago.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has spurned President Donald Trump’s order to extend federal unemployment benefits by $400 a week, saying that the state does not need the program.
Trump last week attempted to bypass Congress in ordering states to extend additional unemployment payments of up to $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic. Under Trump’s plan, the extra unemployment benefit would require a state to commit to providing $100. It was unclear if Trump had the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits, and the rejection from Noem, who has been a close Trump ally, shows how little traction the plan may get.
The Republican governor said on Friday that South Dakota does not need the extra unemployment benefits and that nearly 80% of job losses in the state have been recovered [“South Dakota’s Noem Rejects Trump’s Unemployment Plan,” AP via KOTA-TV, 2020.08.15].
Three possible reasons for Governor Noem’s rejection of this expanded unemployment insurance jump to mind:
- Governor Noem staunchly refuses to spend one extra penny of state money on this crisis and thus refuses to provide the 1:3 match Trump’s August 8 order envisioned, even though it appears states can count existing benefits toward that match.
- Governor Noem is clinging to the disproven cranky-conservative fantasy that expanded UI benefits discourage work.
- Her one remaining sensible advisor has convinced her that expanding unemployment benefits by raiding FEMA during hurricane season is a really bad idea.
Whatever Kristi’s qualms, Louisiana, Iowa, New Mexico, and Arizona don’t share them: those four states are the first to say okee-dokee to Trump’s executive handouts, which probably won’t go out until September and will leave out a million low-wage workers with the greatest need.