South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has increasingly become the face of the anti-lockdown coalition, said Friday that her state will not accept $400 weekly unemployment payments from the federal government.
Noem never forced South Dakota’s citizens into house arrest or ordered businesses to close shop, so the state has faced a smaller economic and social crisis, the Argus Leader reported.
“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.
She thanked President Donald Trump for his continued effort to “problem solve and provide great leadership during this recovery effort,” even as she lamented the “significant dysfunction” in Congress.
Noem said South Dakota has already recovered 80 percent of the jobs that were lost during the coronavirus pandemic, a far faster recovery than states that imposed mandatory lockdowns.
Less than 14,500 people, or 3.5 percent of the state’s workforce, were receiving unemployment on Aug. 1, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“[It] 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,” Noem said, the New York Post reported.
She also said South Dakota has an even brighter future, as “many, many businesses” seek to move to one of the few remaining states where free enterprise is tolerated.
Trump authorized the continued distribution of unemployment compensation on Aug. 8, but he reduced them from $600 to $400 per month in an effort not to dissuade citizens from returning to their jobs.
Congress did not reach a deal to spend trillions more on coronavirus bailouts, and the initial unemployment compensation, called Lost Wages Assistance, expired on July 31.
Trump extended the assistance through executive order.
States have to cover $100 of the Lost Wages Assistance, while the federal government will pay the remaining $300.