GOP governors slash jobless aid to try to force more Americans to return to work

Hours after the Biden administration reported lower-than-expected employment numbers, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced his state would cease providing the extra $300 in weekly unemployment payments in June. In a letter to Arkansas’s labor agency, Hutchinson attributed the decision to the fact that the state’s economy is “rebounding so quickly.” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced his plan to cease participating in the program earlier this week. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signaled to local reporters that the state could soon follow suit, while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is considering the same. And Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said he plans to offer residents a one-time return-to-work payment. He lambasted the federal stimulus benefits as “no-work bonuses” in a tweet Friday, stressing it would not encourage Americans to seek new jobs. The early trend troubled labor experts. The enhanced unemployment payments for months have offered a critical financial lifeline to millions of Americans, including those in roughly a dozen states — some led by Republican governors — that normally do not offer benefits that meet or exceed the poverty line. In canceling the $300 weekly benefit, some GOP governors also announced plans to end their states’ involvement in a federal program that helps gig-economy workers and other independent contractors, who traditionally are not eligible to collect jobless support at all.