By Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo
On May 10, Governor Burgum decided to end North Dakota’s participation in federal COVID-19 unemployment assistance programs. Sadly this takes $104 million dollars from the pockets of North Dakota workers, but that’s not all.
When North Dakotans spend money, they generate about $1.61 in economic activity for every dollar spent.
In other words, North Dakota’s local restaurants, main street businesses, our local drug stores, and gas stations are missing out on $270 million in economic activity.
That money would go a long way in helping struggling businesses stay afloat while we turn the corner on this pandemic.
Further, recent studies indicate that unemployment benefits actually have very little to do with workers not filling jobs. Child care, health concerns, caregiving within sick families, and other pandemic-related economics have much more to do with filling jobs than unemployment supports.
Since only Republican governors are terminating these benefits, it seems this is more of a political knee-jerk reaction than a decision based on sound economic data.
We all want a strong economy. I encourage the Governor to revisit this decision, reinstate these federal benefits for struggling families and businesses, and allow another $270 million to flow through North Dakota.
Mathern serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and represents District 11 in the North Dakota Legislature.