Gov. Doug Burgum today said North Dakota has received guidance that it can use the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to help cover the surging costs of unemployment insurance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Dakota has received $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which was created through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.
Under guidance provided by the U.S. Treasury Department late Wednesday, states can use the CARES Act funding to cover expenses associated with economic support provided in connection with the COVID-19 crisis, including unemployment insurance costs that aren’t otherwise reimbursed by the federal government.
Burgum noted that Job Service North Dakota has already received more than 60,000 unemployment claims since March 16 – roughly three years’ worth of claims – and has paid out $105.8 million since that date, including $51.3 million from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and $54.5 million from the federally funded Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.
“Allowing states to utilize CARES Act funding to cover unemployment insurance expenses will help employers avoid huge increases in unemployment insurance premiums as they reopen and the economy gets back on track,” Burgum said. “We’re deeply grateful to Sen. Hoeven, Sen. Cramer and Congressman Armstrong, as well as President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for their efforts to secure this important flexibility.”
At the governor’s press briefing today, Hoeven spoke about how he worked directly with the Administration at Burgum’s request, including raising the issue directly with President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin in phone calls and with Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia during a conference call last week with North Dakota business leaders.