ICYMI: New Report Reveals Political Motivations Driving States Ending UI Benefits Early

July 28, 2021 Groundwork Collaborative

New internal documents obtained by The Daily Poster show that North Dakota officials made a calculated decision to cut off jobless aid early based on anecdotal evidence and driven by political motivations. North Dakota is one of 26 states that ended the $300 federal unemployment benefit early. 

As Groundwork’s Executive Director Dr. Lindsay Owens told The Daily Poster: 

This slide deck makes clear what we’ve long known about how officials make decisions about the social safety net…The cruelty is, and always has been, the point.”

Read more about the investigation here and email press@groundworkcollaborative.org to speak with Dr. Owens about this crucial lifeline.


  • UI benefits are not a disincentive to return to work. According to new research by Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, states that ended UI early did not see a jump in people going back to work in the weeks following the expiration of UI benefits.
  • UI benefits have served as an economic lifeline for millions of workers and families throughout the pandemic. The emergency boosts to UI during the pandemic — $600 a week until July 31 of last year and now $300 — have been especially critical since UI benefits in many states only cover a fraction of worker’s lost wages.
  • Policies that protect workers from being forced into jobs with poverty-level wages are good for our economy, full stop. Strong social safety net measures like UI make our labor market stronger, build worker power, and are essential to an equitable and just recovery.  
  • Enhanced UI benefits disproportionately support Black and brown workers who have historically been left behind in recoveries. Workers of color have experienced larger job losses and less hiring than white workers since the beginning of the pandemic and are disproportionately experiencing unemployment.
  • UI benefits put more money in peoples’ pockets, which in turn powers consumer spending, generating growth that reverberates throughout the economy. Enhanced UI benefits are an essential part of a healthy recovery that centers workers and local communities and should continue until we are on stronger economic footing.


The Groundwork Collaborative’s mission is to advance an economic vision for strong, broadly shared prosperity and true opportunity for all. Learn more at https://groundworkcollaborative.org/ and follow us on Twitter @groundwork.