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.

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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.