South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, became the first governor to refuse federal unemployment aid, which was signed by President Trump in an executive order that intended to help states amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Hill.
Noem was noted as having low coronavirus numbers despite never shutting down, unlike many other states around the country. As a result, the state’s economy has not suffered like the rest of the nation.
“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,” she said in a statement. “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.”
The unemployment rate in South Dakota is currently at 7.2 percent, and only 152 people in the state have died as a result of the virus. This was after many national media outlets called South Dakota a “hot spot” for COVID-19 cases due to the governor not shutting down, but rather, encouraging staying home when possible, wearing a mask and social distancing.
“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,” Noem said. “We have the third-best housing construction market in the country. And many, many businesses are looking to relocate to South Dakota because of the decisions we made during the pandemic. South Dakota is open for business — that applies to our business owners and their employees.”
Many South Dakota workers have been rehired since the economic decline that occurred early on in the pandemic. The state has shown substantial economic growth and as a result, does not need unemployment aid from the federal government.
“South Dakota's economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses," Noem said in a statement. “South Dakota is open for business -- that applies to our business owners and their employees.”