North Dakota on Monday announced it will terminate its participation in the federal government’s COVID-19 unemployment assistance programs next month as it hopes to incentivize more residents to return to work amid a labor shortage.
As job openings in the state reach pre-pandemic levels, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is trying to get more residents back into the labor force to help the state recover.
"After fighting through severe stress and financial hardship, many North Dakota businesses that survived the pandemic are now facing an unprecedented labor shortage as they attempt to recover," Burgum said in a statement. "These federal unemployment programs were meant to supplement state benefits and provide short-term relief for displaced and vulnerable workers, and these programs have accomplished their goals but are now counterproductive."
Burgum’s office said that as of April, North Dakota had 6,396 online job openings – 50% more than it had during the same period last year and also the highest online opening rate since 2015.
Around 8,300 individuals are claiming unemployment benefits under the four federal programs the state is currently participating in.
The four programs that North Dakota is ending its participation in, effective as of June 19, include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation.
Further, the state is working on a campaign to roll out mid-June that will advertise the available jobs.
The U.S., overall, is still down more than 8 million jobs compared with pre-pandemic levels. The Biden administration has said it believes the U.S. might be able to recover those positions by the end of the year.