Biden administration cancels border wall contracts covering a 31-mile section in Texas

In a photo taken on March 28, 2021, ranch owner Tony Sandoval (67) stands before a portion of the unfinished border wall that former US president Donald Trump tried to build, near the southern Texas border city of Roma
In a photo taken on March 28, 2021, ranch owner Tony Sandoval stands before a portion of the unfinished border wall that former US president Donald Trump tried to build, near the southern Texas border city of Roma.

  • The Biden DHS is canceling two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector of the US-Mexico border.
  • After taking office in January, President Biden paused ongoing border wall construction.
  • Biden’s 2022 budget proposal allocates $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, sans wall funding.
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The Biden administration is canceling two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector of the US-Mexico border that span roughly 31 miles, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Friday.

Shortly after taking office in January, President Joe Biden paused border wall construction projects that were initiated by former President Donald Trump, calling for “a review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct” the barrier.

Friday’s announcement comes after the Biden administration last month returned to the military more than $2 billion in funding that the Trump administration had diverted for border wall construction.

The Biden administration’s handling of Trump’s border wall projects has unfolded at a slower pace due to funds having been allocated through different government agencies.

The contracts for the Laredo projects planned for 31 miles of border wall to be built along the Rio Grande, funded with DHS Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations.

However, construction on the projects had not yet started, nor had land acquisition been executed.

Read more: Trouble is brewing for a Georgia county’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump

“DHS continues to review all other paused border barrier projects and is in the process of determining which projects may be necessary to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements and where to conduct environmental planning,” the DHS release said. “The Administration also continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”

The Trump administration constructed roughly 450 miles of wall over four years, according to The Associated Press. However, only 52 miles of wall were built in areas where no barrier had previously existed.

The border between the US and Mexico stretches across more than 1,900 miles; some sections already had barriers prior to Trump taking office in 2017.

DHS is utilizing previously-appropriated funds to assess environmental issues that derived from previous wall construction, as well as reviewing land seizure cases to determine if those acquisitions are still necessary.

Biden’s 2022 budget proposal allocates $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, including security technology, but does not set aside funding for additional wall construction.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas last month pledged to continue building a wall at the border, though the legality of the move is being called into question.

“Only Congress and the president can fix our broken border,” Abbott said at the time. “But in the meantime, Texas is going to do everything possible, including beginning to make arrests, to keep our community safe.”

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McConnell criticizes Texas Democrats for staging a walkout, saying they’ve come ‘to snap selfies and bask in the limelight’

mitch mcconnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does a cable news interview before the start of a two-week recess, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

  • Mitch McConnell slammed Texas Democrats who fled the state for Washington, DC, this week.
  • McConnell accused them of coming “to snap selfies and bask in the limelight.”
  • The legislators staged a walkout to block a series of GOP-led bills in the state legislature.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had harsh words for Texas Democrats who fled the state Monday for Washington, DC, in a dramatic walkout to block passage of a series of Republican-led bills.

The Kentucky Republican accused the state Democratic lawmakers of coming to the nation’s capital to have a moment in the sun.

The legislators “decided to grab some beer, hop on a private plane and flee the state in what they are pretending is some great moral crusade,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. “In reality, they’ve just come here to Washington to snap selfies and bask in the limelight.”

The Democratic lawmakers left Texas during a special legislative session to deny the quorum necessary to pass legislation brought forth by Republicans.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held the special session to push through a slew of his conservative priorities, ranging from voting reform to abortion access.

Texas Democrats specifically aimed to block two key election bills, House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1, arguing the legislation imposes strict voting rules by requiring voter ID for absentee ballots, bans on drive-thru voting, among other measures.

The state lawmakers this week met with some of the nation’s top leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to raise concerns about voting rights in the nation. Vice President Kamala Harris threw her support behind their walkout on Monday, saying: “I applaud their standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote unencumbered.”

Other prominent figures on the right besides McConnell that criticized the walkout include Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who on Tuesday night said the legislators were committing an “insurrection.”

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Texas Gov. Abbott vows to arrest Democratic lawmakers who staged walkout

Texas Governor Greg Abbot points at the camera with a stern expression.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott said Democratic lawmakers who fled Texas in a walkout would be arrested.
  • Democrats left en masse on Monday to block conservative bills in a legislative special session.
  • Two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed in Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Greg Abbott promised that Democratic lawmakers who staged a walkout in Texas would be arrested.

Speaking to KVUE on Monday, the two-term Republican criticized Democratic lawmakers who fled en masse to block several conservative bills from passing in a legislative special session.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” he said.

Democratic leaders in the Texas House said on Monday that they had flown to Washington, DC, to “refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.”

Under Texas law, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed.

Abbott convened the special session earlier this month to pass a litany of conservative priorities, including legislation targeting voting, abortion access, transgender rights, and critical race theory.

The marquee issue is a restrictive voting bill that Republican lawmakers have sought largely in response to President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.

The bill would modify early-voting hours, curb the 24/7 voting centers that were popular with shift workers in Democratic-leaning Harris County in last year’s presidential election, and scrap straight-ticket voting, among other measures.

Democratic state senators on Friday introduced a bill called the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act, named after the revered Black senator, designed to expand access to voting, allowing for online and same-day voter registration, among other measures, according to The Dallas Morning News.

However, the GOP-dominated Legislature is unlikely to take up that bill.

While no Democratic state senators had accompanied their House counterparts to the nation’s capital as of Tuesday, a Democratic official said several senators might travel there, according to The New York Times.

Abbott told KVUE that he would not relent from carrying out his legislative objectives.

The governor said he would “continue to call special session after special session” until Democratic lawmakers are present.

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GOP Gov. Greg Abbott says drive-thru voting could lead to ‘coercive’ passengers, defends Texas voting restrictions

Greg Abbott texas bar close order
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended the proposed GOP-led Texas voting restrictions.
  • On “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott told Chris Wallace that the legislation would not suppress voters of color.
  • Abbott took aim at drive-thru voting, decrying a possible “coercive effect” from passengers.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Sunday contended that drive-thru voting, which was a popular method of voting in the 2020 election, could potentially allow passengers to have a “coercive effect” on voters.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace questioned Abbott about the need for the restrictive voting bill up for debate in the current Texas special legislation session and asked if the law would suppress minority voters.

“More than half of the voters who showed up [for these voting options] were people of color. You say you want to make it easier to vote. That’s going to make it harder to vote, and the question is, why make it harder for some Texans to vote unless the point is to suppress voting by people of color?” he asked Abbott.

Abbott argued that counties needed to have policies in place to protect the integrity of their ballots.

“If you do drive-thru voting, are you going to have people in the car with you? It could be somebody from your employer or somebody else that may have some coercive effect on the way that you would cast your ballot, which is contrary to you going into the ballot box, alone and no one there watching over your shoulder,” he said.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

Abbott said that populous Harris County, which tested drive-thru voting in a primary runoff election last year before expanding it to the general election, lacked the authority to “create its own election system.”

“With regard to the drive-thru voting, this violates the fundamentals of what – the way that voting integrity has always been achieved and that is the sanctity of the ballot box,” he said.

Harris County is anchored by Houston, a longtime Democratic stronghold.

Wallace also questioned the GOP-led push to halt 24-hour voting centers, which was popular with shift workers who work nontraditional hours.

“If 24-hour voting worked, why not continue it?” Wallace asked.

“We are providing more hours per day for voting to make sure that anybody with any type of background, any type of working situation is going to have the opportunity to go vote,” Abbott said.

The proposed Texas voting law would bar officials from permitting 24-hour voting centers during early voting and would make it a felony for election officials to send unsolicited vote-by-mail applications to voters, among other measures.

Texas Democratic lawmakers are reportedly mulling over whether to leave the state to block the election overhaul from passing, according to The New York Times.

The lawmakers who support leaving the state have argued that the action “would bring a renewed spotlight to voting rights in Texas” and put pressure on Democrats in the US Senate to enact federal voting reforms, according to several Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Times.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Texas GOP leaders pressured a book event examining the role of slavery in the Battle of the Alamo to abruptly shut down

greg abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • A book event in Texas was canceled because of pressure from GOP leaders in the state.
  • “Forget the Alamo” says the history behind the battle has for generations left out important motives like preserving slavery.
  • The event was canceled with just four hours to go, despite counting 300 RSVPs, per the Texas Tribune.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The authors of a book that looks at the role of slavery in the Battle of the Alamo said they felt pressured to cancel a promotional event because GOP leaders in Texas complained about it.

The event was expected to happen Thursday evening at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Texas Tribune reported. But museum organizers canceled it with less than four hours to go, citing pressure from Republican lawmakers in Texas to do so.

“The Bullock was receiving increased pressure on social media about hosting the event, as well as to the museum’s board of directors (Gov Abbott being one of them) and decided to pull out as a co-host all together,” Penguin Random House said in a statement reported by the Tribune.

Gov. Greg Abbott did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on Twitter he called for the event’s cancellation.

“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” Patrick said. “This fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum.”

In response, Chris Tomlinson, one of the book’s authors, accused Patrick of “oppressing free speech and policing thought in Texas.”

“@BullockMuseum proves it is a propaganda outlet,” Tomlinson said on Twitter. “As for his fact-free comment, well, a dozen people professional historians disagree.”

The Bullock did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The event for the book, called “Forget the Alamo,” had counted 300 RSVPs, according to the Tribune.

The book examines the way the Battle of the Alamo is taught and concludes that important parts of the story have for generations been left out of the narrative.

“Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos-Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels-scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over,” a description of the book from Penguin Random House says. “As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness.”

The Texas Tribune noted that the book has received largely positive reviews from acclaimed media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

The event’s cancellation comes amid a wave of conservative backlash against critical race theory. Florida banned the teaching of critical race theory in public schools last month and other states have taken or are taking similar measures. GOP leaders have labeled critical race theory a “dangerous ideology,” arguing it twists the facts of US history.

In Texas, GOP legislators are waging the same war.

Read the original article on Business Insider

25 GOP-led states and one Democratic state are cutting $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits. Here are the 26 states making the cut this summer.

GettyImages 1231114054
President Joe Biden.

  • Some Republican governors have decided Americans make too much from expanded unemployment benefits.
  • After a surprisingly dismal April jobs report, they moved to end federal jobless aid early.
  • That also includes eliminating programs benefiting gig workers, freelancers, and the long-term unemployed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Alabama

kay ivey
Gov. Kay Ivey.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the state was halting its participation in federal unemployment benefits starting June 19. 

Those include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for gig workers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed.

“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work,” Ivey said in a press release.

Alabama is also resuming its work-search requirements for recipients, which had been paused throughout the pandemic.

The average weekly benefit in Alabama amounted to $283 in March. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, higher than the 2.8% it had in February 2020.

Alabama is among the seven states that have not raised the hourly minimum wage for workers since the hike to $7.25 in 2009

Experts say other factors are keeping workers from jumping back into the labor force, such as a lack of childcare access and fear of COVID-19 infection.

Alaska

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska will end its participation in the extra $300 in weekly benefits effective June 12. 

“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” labor and workforce development commissioner, Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, said in a statement.

Extensions for the state benefit will continue through September 6. 

Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.6% in March 2021, a 0.8% increase from the rate of 5.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $298.

Arizona

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the state will terminate all federal jobless benefit programs on July 10, per a news release from his office.

Arizona, however, is setting aside some federal funds to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus for people who return to work by Sept. 6. There are some strings attached.

People qualify for the measure if they are already receiving jobless aid — and they must earn less than $25 hourly at their next job. That amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000. Individuals must also work 10 weeks with a new employer to get the cash.

The state last recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%, higher than the 4.9% it had immediately before the pandemic in February 2020.

Arizona’s average jobless payout is $238.

Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on May 7 that the state would no longer participate in federal unemployment after June 26. 

“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose. Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed,” Hutchinson said in a press release, which cited South Carolina’s and Montana’s separate decisions to opt out of the federal assistance program.

Its unemployment rate is 4.4%, slightly higher than the 3.8% level of February 2020. The average weekly benefit in the state is $248.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 74.7% of the UI Arkansas disbursed came from federal funds, according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. On January 1 of this year, Arkansas’s minimum wage increased to $11 — several dollars above the federal rate of $7.25.

Florida

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida will end its participation in the $300 in additional weekly benefits effective June 26. However, other federal programs, including PUA, “will continue for the time being as DEO [Department of Economic Opportunity] continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.”

In a press release, DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said “transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March 2021, 1.9% higher than 2.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $235.22.

Georgia

brian kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 26.

“Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong — including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th.”

The Georgia unemployment rate was 4.5% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 3.5%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $278.95.

Idaho

Gov. Brad Little
Gov. Brad Little.

Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would no longer draw federal money to fund enhanced unemployment insurance, and the state will cancel its program on June 19.

It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a Tuesday statement. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

The state was among those that recently reimposed a job-seeking requirement for people receiving jobless aid.

Idaho’s unemployment rate stands at 3.2%, a higher level compared to 2.6% in February 2020. The average weekly unemployment benefit in the state is $355, per the Labor Department.

Indiana

GettyImages eric holcomb
Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is terminating all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said in the news release. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”

The state is also among those now requiring people to actively seek work while on unemployment.

Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, higher than the 3.2% it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit is $254.

Iowa

kim reynolds iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would cancel federal jobless benefits on June 12.

“Federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs initially provided displaced Iowans with crucial assistance when the pandemic began,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work.”

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still slightly higher than the 2.9% it recorded in February 2020. Iowa’s average weekly jobless benefit is $430.

Louisiana

john bel edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Louisiana is the first Democrat-led state to prematurely cut off its participation in $300 weekly benefits. Those benefits will end July 31.

Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill that would increase the state’s regular weekly benefits by $28. One of the bill’s stipulations was that supplemental unemployment benefits had to end on July 31.

Local news outlet WWLTV reported that, prior to the bill’s passage, the governor had already said he planned on ending benefits in early August, when school begins.

Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 7.1% in May 2021, nearly two points higher than 5.2% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $175.57.

Maryland

larry hogan
Gov. Larry Hogan.

Maryland will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective July 3.

Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement that the state has vaccinated 70% of its adults, hitting the goal set by President Joe Biden, and that Maryland’s “health and economic recovery continues to outpace the nation.”

“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply,” Hogan said. “And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages.”

Maryland’s unemployment rate was 6.2% in April 2021, nearly three points higher than 3.3% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $318.16.

Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday that he was pulling out the state from the federal pandemic-aid programs starting June 12.

“It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled,” Reeves wrote on Twitter.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $195, according to the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate is 6.3%, a figure still elevated from its pre-pandemic rate of 5.8% in February 2020.

Mississippi is among the seven states that have not lifted hourly pay for workers since the last increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Missouri

missouri gov mike parson
Gov. Mike Parson.

Gov. Mike Parson announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be ending its participation in federal unemployment on June 12. 

“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing,” Parson said in a statement. “It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.” 

The average weekly benefit in Missouri amounted to $258.57 in March. Its unemployment rate stood at 4.2% in March, a drop from 4.3% in February. That’s still 0.5% higher than the March 2020 unemployment rate.

Missouri raised its minimum wage to $10.30 on January 1, 2021.

Montana

greg gianforte
Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the state was ending federal benefits on June 27.

“Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good,” Gianforte said in a statement. “We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce.”

Taking its place will be a $1,200 return-to-work bonus, an amount equivalent to four weeks of receiving federal jobless aid. Workers will be eligible for the cash after a month on the job. The measure enjoys support among some congressional Republicans.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $468 without the federal supplement. The state’s unemployment rate has reached pre-pandemic levels, at 3.8% in April.

Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts delivers the annual State of the State Address to lawmakers in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.
Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nebraska will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the benefits are a “disincentive for some people” in returning to work. The curtailing of benefits come as part of the state’s initiative to reopen and “return to normalcy.”

Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.8% in April 2021, lower than 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $343.25.

New Hampshire

chris sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu.

Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday that he was planning on ending the additional $300 weekly benefit before it’s due to expire, NECN reports. However, the date that benefits will be discontinued in the state remains unclear.

The state will also begin work search requirements for those on UI beginning May 23.

The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 3.0% in March 2021, above the February 2020 rate of 2.6%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $277.26.

North Dakota

doug burgum north dakota trans school sports bill
Gov. Doug Burgum.

Gov. Doug Burgum said the state would pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs on June 19.

“Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a news release, noting the state had its highest number of online job postings since July 2015.

The state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, still almost double its level of 2.3% in February 2020. North Dakota’s average weekly unemployment payment is $480.

Ohio

Mike-DeWine-2019
Gov. Mike DeWine.

Gov. Mike Dewine said the state will scrap the federal unemployment benefit programs on June 26.

“This assistance was always intended to be temporary,” DeWine said in a statement.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, the same level it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Ohio is $383.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is dropping all federal unemployment programs starting on June 26.

“That gives people six weeks to get off the sidelines and get back into the game,” he said in a news release.

Stitt also announced that the first 20,000 laid-off workers now receiving benefits that are rehired will get a $1,200 “incentive using funds from the American Rescue Plan.”

People are eligible if they receive some form of federal unemployment aid between May 2 through 15, and keep their new job for at least six weeks. Individuals must also have a 32-hour workweek.

The Oklahoma unemployment rate stands at 5.2%, higher than the 3.1% it had before the pandemic broke out in February last year. The average weekly benefit is $310.

South Carolina

henry mcmaster
Gov. Henry McMaster.

Even before the jobs report hit, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the state would stop its participation in federal unemployment effective June 30.

“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.

McMaster spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the expanded unemployment program, saying he believed it’s a “counterproductive policy.”

The average weekly benefit in the state stands at $228. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 5.1%, still nearly double its pre-pandemic rate of 2.8% in February 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 76.7% of the unemployment insurance that South Carolina disbursed came from federal funds, according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute. The minimum wage in South Carolina was last raised in 2009, when the federal minimum wage as a whole was increased to $7.25.

South Dakota

Kristi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced Wednesday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective the week of June 26. In a related statement, the state’s Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman noted that “help wanted signs line our streets.”

“South Dakota is, and has been, ‘Open for Business.’ Ending these programs is a necessary step towards recovery, growth, and getting people back to work,” Hultman added.

The South Dakota unemployment rate was 2.9% in March 2021, unchanged from 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $369.

Tennessee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Gov. Bill Lee.

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that federal unemployment benefits would end in the state effective July 3.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

The state’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 5%, a 0.1% increase from the month before and 1% higher than the March 2020 rate. Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment payment is $219.45. Tennessee is one of seven states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25.

Texas

greg abbott texas
Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he was scrapping all federal unemployment programs on June 26.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said in a statement.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the state will experience a sharp cut in their unemployment aid, per an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation. It’s the largest state yet to eliminate the programs, with the eliminated aid coming to an estimated $8.8 billion.

The average weekly benefit in Texas is $405. The state’s current 6.9% unemployment rate is still nearly double what it used to be in February 2020.

Utah

AP spencer cox
Gov. Spencer Cox.

Utah is withdrawing from federal unemployment aid programs effective June 26.

“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement. “The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”

The state has a 2.9% unemployment rate, slightly higher than the 2.5% pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Utah is $428.

West Virginia

WV Gov Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 19 at midnight.

“We need everyone back to work,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “Our small businesses and West Virginia’s economy depend on it.”

West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 4.9%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $276.15.

Wyoming

mark gordon
Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the state was scrapping the federal unemployment benefit, along with programs aiding gig workers and those who exhausted traditional state payouts.

“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Gordon said in a statement. “People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

The Wyoming unemployment rate is 5.3%, slightly higher than the 4.8% it once had in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $430.

Are you unemployed and have a story you want to share? Contact these reporters at jkaplan@insider.com and jzeballos@insider.com.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new state budget that defunds the entire state legislature

Texas Governor Greg Abbot points at the camera with a stern expression
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed Article X of the state budget, effectively defunding the entire legislature.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defunded the state legislature while signing the state budget on Friday.
  • Abbott made the decision after Democrats staged a walkout in May to prevent restrictive voting legislation from passing.
  • Texas legislator pay is written into the state constitution, so legislative staffers will be most affected.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed Article X of the state budget on Friday, effectively defunding the entire state legislature after Democrats staged a walkout to prevent restrictive voting laws from passing in May.

“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement. “Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session. I therefore object to and disapprove of these appropriations.”

State Republicans were close to passing Senate Bill 7 in May which would have cracked down on initiatives that local election officials undertook in 2020 to expand voting options during the COVID-19 pandemic including:

  • Making it a felony offense for election officials to send unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters, even those who are eligible to vote absentee in Texas. Harris County officials tried to send absentee applications to the county’s 2.4 million registered voters in 2020 but were blocked in court.
  • Banning election officials from offering drive-thru voting, which Harris County did in 2020. The county successfully defended itself against last-minute legal challenges to its drive-thru voting system.
  • Limiting counties to a maximum of eight hours of voting, between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., on Sundays during early voting.

But while Abbott’s aim is to punish Democratic legislators, the people most affected will likely be legislative staffers. Abbott may have vetoed the piece of the budget with the legislature’s overall funding, but Sec. 24 of the Texas Constitution states that “Members of the Legislature shall receive from the Public Treasury a salary of Six Hundred Dollars per Month.”

The state constitution also dictates that the legislators must receive a per diem pay for every day they serve when called for a special session, so they would still likely get paid regardless of the state budget.

Democratic State Rep. Sheryl Cole said on Twitter that the legislators “will be alright,” but stressed that staffers are going to face the brunt of Abbott’s veto.

Texas House Democratic Chair Rep. Chris Turner said in a statement that “the tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that Governor Greg Abbott is simply out of control.”

“Our caucus is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back against Greg Abbott’s abuse of power.”

Grace Panetta contributed reporting.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he’s soliciting donations to build the US-Mexico border wall

Greg Abbott
Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Dallas, Friday, May 4, 2018.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would solicit donations from the public to fund Texas’ border wall.
  • Abbott said he would welcome financial support from around the world.
  • The governor announced last week that Texas would begin building its own border wall.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told a podcast host on Tuesday that he would solicit donations from the public to fund the construction of Texas’ border wall.

Abbott said he would formally unveil the effort later this week and welcomed financial support from around the world.

“I will also be providing a link that you can click on and go to for everybody in the United States – really everybody in the entire world – who wants to help Texas build the border wall, there will be a place on there where they can contribute,” Abbott said during an interview on the podcast “Ruthless.”

The governor announced last week that Texas would begin building its own border wall after President Joe Biden stopped most construction of the barrier when he took office in January. The governor also said his state would step up its arrests of migrants illegally crossing the border.

“Only Congress and the president can fix our broken border,” Abbott said during a speech at border security conference in Del Rio. “But in the meantime, Texas is going to do everything possible, including beginning to make arrests, to keep our community safe.”

The governor provided few details about how he would collect and spend the donated money, but said it would go to a fund “overseen by the state of Texas in the governor’s office” and pledged “great transparency.”

A different effort to raise money to build the border wall ended in scandal. During Trump’s presidency, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage and former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon raised more than $25 million for a border wall fund Kolfage created called We Build the Wall. Bannon, Kolfage, and two of their associates were arrested and charged with fraud. Bannon was pardoned by Trump shortly before the ex-president left office.

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A Texas valedictorian ditched her approved speech in order to blast the state’s new anti-abortion law and it went viral

greg abbott paxton smith
Governor Greg Abbott and Paxton Smith

  • A Texas valedictorian surprised administrators by using her speech to attack Texas’s restrictive new abortion law.
  • Paxton Smith was praised by Hillary Clinton for her “courage.”
  • “This takes guts,” tweeted Clinton.
  • The “heartbeat” bill bans abortions after six weeks and provides no exceptions for rape or incest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Texas valedictorian went viral and received praise from Hilary Clinton for her “courage” after she dropped her pre-approved speech and instead used her allotted time to attack Gov. Greg Abbott’s recently-passed anti-abortion law.

Paxton Smith, the valedictorian at Lake Highlands High School Class of 2021, had received approval to give a speech in which she discussed her perception of the media, she told D Magazine.

Instead, Smith attacked the anti-abortion bill signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.

Known as the “heartbeat” bill, the law bans abortions after six weeks and does not provide exceptions for rape or incest. The legislation is due to take effect in September, Insider’s Conor Perrett and Madison Hall reported.

“Today I was going to talk about TV and media and content because it’s something that’s very important to me,” said Smith.

“However, under light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is affecting me and millions of other people in the state.

“Recently the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas.

“Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Six weeks: That’s all women get.”

She added: “Most of them don’t realize that they’re pregnant by six weeks. So before they have a chance to decide if they’re emotionally, physically, and financially stable enough to carry out a full-term pregnancy, before they have the chance to decide if they can take on the responsibility of bringing a human being into the world, that decision is made for them by a stranger.”

A clipped video of Smith delivering the speech was shared more than 40,000 times on Twitter, and she received praise from Hillary Clinton.

“This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton,” Clinton tweeted.

In an interview with D Magazine, Smith said that some administrators were angered by her decision to drop the pre-approved speech, and said the school could withhold her diploma. But she said that threat had not materialized.

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GOP-led states are cutting $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits. Here are the 24 states making the cut this summer.

GettyImages 1231114054
President Joe Biden.

  • Some Republican governors have decided Americans make too much from expanded unemployment benefits.
  • After a surprisingly dismal jobs report, they’re moving to end federal jobless aid early.
  • That also includes eliminating programs benefiting gig workers, freelancers, and the long-term unemployed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Alabama

kay ivey
Gov. Kay Ivey.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the state was halting its participation in federal unemployment benefits starting June 19. 

Those include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for gig workers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed.

“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work,” Ivey said in a press release.

Alabama is also resuming its work-search requirements for recipients, which had been paused throughout the pandemic.

The average weekly benefit in Alabama amounted to $283 in March. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, higher than the 2.8% it had in February 2020.

Alabama is among the seven states that have not raised the hourly minimum wage for workers since the hike to $7.25 in 2009

Experts say other factors are keeping workers from jumping back into the labor force, such as a lack of childcare access and fear of COVID-19 infection.

Alaska

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska will end its participation in the extra $300 in weekly benefits effective June 12. 

“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” labor and workforce development commissioner, Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, said in a statement.

Extensions for the state benefit will continue through September 6. 

Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.6% in March 2021, a 0.8% increase from the rate of 5.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $298.

Arizona

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the state will terminate all federal jobless benefit programs on July 10, per a news release from his office.

Arizona, however, is setting aside some federal funds to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus for people who return to work by Sept. 6. There are some strings attached.

People qualify for the measure if they are already receiving jobless aid — and they must earn less than $25 hourly at their next job. That amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000. Individuals must also work 10 weeks with a new employer to get the cash.

The state last recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%, higher than the 4.9% it had immediately before the pandemic in February 2020.

Arizona’s average jobless payout is $238.

Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on May 7 that the state would no longer participate in federal unemployment after June 26. 

“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose. Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed,” Hutchinson said in a press release, which cited South Carolina’s and Montana’s separate decisions to opt out of the federal assistance program.

Its unemployment rate is 4.4%, slightly higher than the 3.8% level of February 2020. The average weekly benefit in the state is $248.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 74.7% of the UI Arkansas disbursed came from federal funds, according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. On January 1 of this year, Arkansas’s minimum wage increased to $11 — several dollars above the federal rate of $7.25.

Florida

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida will end its participation in the $300 in additional weekly benefits effective June 26. However, other federal programs, including PUA, “will continue for the time being as DEO [Department of Economic Opportunity] continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.”

In a press release, DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said “transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March 2021, 1.9% higher than 2.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $235.22.

Georgia

brian kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 26.

“Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong — including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th.”

The Georgia unemployment rate was 4.5% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 3.5%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $278.95.

Idaho

Gov. Brad Little
Gov. Brad Little.

Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would no longer draw federal money to fund enhanced unemployment insurance, and the state will cancel its program on June 19.

It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a Tuesday statement. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

The state was among those that recently reimposed a job-seeking requirement for people receiving jobless aid.

Idaho’s unemployment rate stands at 3.2%, a higher level compared to 2.6% in February 2020. The average weekly unemployment benefit in the state is $355, per the Labor Department.

Indiana

GettyImages eric holcomb
Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is terminating all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said in the news release. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”

The state is also among those now requiring people to actively seek work while on unemployment.

Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, higher than the 3.2% it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit is $254.

Iowa

kim reynolds iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would cancel federal jobless benefits on June 12.

“Federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs initially provided displaced Iowans with crucial assistance when the pandemic began,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work.”

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still slightly higher than the 2.9% it recorded in February 2020. Iowa’s average weekly jobless benefit is $430.

Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday that he was pulling out the state from the federal pandemic-aid programs starting June 12.

“It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled,” Reeves wrote on Twitter.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $195, according to the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate is 6.3%, a figure still elevated from its pre-pandemic rate of 5.8% in February 2020.

Mississippi is among the seven states that have not lifted hourly pay for workers since the last increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Missouri

missouri gov mike parson
Gov. Mike Parson.

Gov. Mike Parson announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be ending its participation in federal unemployment on June 12. 

“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing,” Parson said in a statement. “It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.” 

The average weekly benefit in Missouri amounted to $258.57 in March. Its unemployment rate stood at 4.2% in March, a drop from 4.3% in February. That’s still 0.5% higher than the March 2020 unemployment rate.

Missouri raised its minimum wage to $10.30 on January 1, 2021.

Montana

greg gianforte
Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the state was ending federal benefits on June 27.

“Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good,” Gianforte said in a statement. “We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce.”

Taking its place will be a $1,200 return-to-work bonus, an amount equivalent to four weeks of receiving federal jobless aid. Workers will be eligible for the cash after a month on the job. The measure enjoys support among some congressional Republicans.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $468 without the federal supplement. The state’s unemployment rate has reached pre-pandemic levels, at 3.8% in April.

Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts delivers the annual State of the State Address to lawmakers in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.
Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nebraska will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the benefits are a “disincentive for some people” in returning to work. The curtailing of benefits come as part of the state’s initiative to reopen and “return to normalcy.”

Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.8% in April 2021, lower than 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $343.25.

New Hampshire

chris sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu.

Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday that he was planning on ending the additional $300 weekly benefit before it’s due to expire, NECN reports. However, the date that benefits will be discontinued in the state remains unclear.

The state will also begin work search requirements for those on UI beginning May 23.

The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 3.0% in March 2021, above the February 2020 rate of 2.6%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $277.26.

North Dakota

doug burgum north dakota trans school sports bill
Gov. Doug Burgum.

Gov. Doug Burgum said the state would pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs on June 19.

“Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a news release, noting the state had its highest number of online job postings since July 2015.

The state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, still almost double its level of 2.3% in February 2020. North Dakota’s average weekly unemployment payment is $480.

Ohio

Mike-DeWine-2019
Gov. Mike DeWine.

Gov. Mike Dewine said the state will scrap the federal unemployment benefit programs on June 26.

“This assistance was always intended to be temporary,” DeWine said in a statement.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, the same level it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Ohio is $383.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is dropping all federal unemployment programs starting on June 26.

“That gives people six weeks to get off the sidelines and get back into the game,” he said in a news release.

Stitt also announced that the first 20,000 laid-off workers now receiving benefits that are rehired will get a $1,200 “incentive using funds from the American Rescue Plan.”

People are eligible if they receive some form of federal unemployment aid between May 2 through 15, and keep their new job for at least six weeks. Individuals must also have a 32-hour workweek.

The Oklahoma unemployment rate stands at 5.2%, higher than the 3.1% it had before the pandemic broke out in February last year. The average weekly benefit is $310.

South Carolina

henry mcmaster
Gov. Henry McMaster.

Even before the jobs report hit, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the state would stop its participation in federal unemployment effective June 30.

“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.

McMaster spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the expanded unemployment program, saying he believed it’s a “counterproductive policy.”

The average weekly benefit in the state stands at $228. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 5.1%, still nearly double its pre-pandemic rate of 2.8% in February 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 76.7% of the unemployment insurance that South Carolina disbursed came from federal funds, according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute. The minimum wage in South Carolina was last raised in 2009, when the federal minimum wage as a whole was increased to $7.25.

South Dakota

Kristi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced Wednesday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective the week of June 26. In a related statement, the state’s Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman noted that “help wanted signs line our streets.”

“South Dakota is, and has been, ‘Open for Business.’ Ending these programs is a necessary step towards recovery, growth, and getting people back to work,” Hultman added.

The South Dakota unemployment rate was 2.9% in March 2021, unchanged from 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $369.

Tennessee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Gov. Bill Lee.

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that federal unemployment benefits would end in the state effective July 3.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

The state’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 5%, a 0.1% increase from the month before and 1% higher than the March 2020 rate. Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment payment is $219.45. Tennessee is one of seven states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25.

Texas

greg abbott texas
Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he was scrapping all federal unemployment programs on June 26.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said in a statement.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the state will experience a sharp cut in their unemployment aid, per an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation. It’s the largest state yet to eliminate the programs, with the eliminated aid coming to an estimated $8.8 billion.

The average weekly benefit in Texas is $405. The state’s current 6.9% unemployment rate is still nearly double what it used to be in February 2020.

Utah

AP spencer cox
Gov. Spencer Cox.

Utah is withdrawing from federal unemployment aid programs effective June 26.

“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement. “The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”

The state has a 2.9% unemployment rate, slightly higher than the 2.5% pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Utah is $428.

West Virginia

WV Gov Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 19 at midnight.

“We need everyone back to work,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “Our small businesses and West Virginia’s economy depend on it.”

West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 4.9%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $276.15.

Wyoming

mark gordon
Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the state was scrapping the federal unemployment benefit, along with programs aiding gig workers and those who exhausted traditional state payouts.

“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Gordon said in a statement. “People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

The Wyoming unemployment rate is 5.3%, slightly higher than the 4.8% it once had in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $430.

Are you unemployed and have a story you want to share? Contact these reporters at jkaplan@insider.com and jzeballos@insider.com.

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