State Watch

South Dakota declines unemployment aid from Trump executive orders

South Dakota appeared to become the first state to decline boosted federal unemployment aid that was designated under an executive order signed by President Trump this month amid the continuing pandemic.

Gov. Kristi Noem (R), a vocal ally of the White House, said South Dakota did not need the additional funds because workers in her state have been rehired and that its economy is rebounding after suffering economic fallout from 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. 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,” she said in a statement.

Trump signed an executive order earlier this month allowing the federal government to use money already allocated for disaster assistance to help unemployed Americans, adding at least $300 more to their weekly benefit amounts, with state governments expected to provide an additional $100, for a total of $400. 

The order came after White House officials and congressional Democratic leaders were unable to come to an agreement about coronavirus legislation earlier this month. The $600-per-week enhanced unemployment insurance provided to Americans under the March CARES Act expired in late July. 

But the order blindsided many states, some of which are still reeling from the pandemic’s economic repercussions and may not be in a position to add their part of the benefits boost. 

Several states are expected to offer only the additional weekly $300 from the federal government, despite concerns that amount won’t cover many people’s costs of living. 

The order drew fierce criticism from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who wrote in a letter that the “convoluted and short-lived proposal” will “delay payments to unemployed Pennsylvanians and create unnecessary and costly administrative burdens for the states who must administer the funds.”

South Dakota’s unemployment rate currently sits at 7.2 percent, and 152 people have died from the virus in the state.

Tags Coronavirus relief package Donald Trump enhanced unemployment benefits Kristi Noem South Dakota Tom Wolf trump executive order Unemployment insurance
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