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Photo: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A judge in Arkansas ruled Wednesday that the state must resume pandemic unemployment benefits after Gov. Asa Hutchinson halted them, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: The decision could impact 69,000 jobless workers in Arkansas who lost their additional jobless benefits on June 26, AP notes.

  • Arkansas is now the third state, following Indiana and Maryland, where a judge has blocked cuts to unemployment aid, per CBS News.

The big picture: Judge Herbert Wright on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction, ordering unemployment benefits must be restored.

  • Hutchinson's decision was followed by lawsuit filed on behalf of five Arkansas workers who have struggled to pay for essentials such as food and rent since the benefits ended.
  • “The court has serious doubts that the Governor and the Director of Workforce Services were acting within the scope of their duties, as these decisions would normally be the subject of legislation from the General Assembly,” Wright wrote, per AP.

Go deeper

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 3, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

How Iowa fared after ending federal pandemic unemployment aid early

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

States that ended supplemental unemployment benefits early saw similar job growth in comparison to those that continued to offer aid, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Why it matters: It suggests the bonus $300 a week was not a primary factor for why unemployed Iowans didn't return to work this last year, despite businesses offering higher pay.

Context: Iowa was one of the first states to exit the federal pandemic unemployment program, on June 17.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds had cited worker shortages.

By the numbers: Nonfarm payrolls rose 1.33% in July from April for states that ended the benefits.

  • They rose 1.37% for states that continued benefits.

Yes, but: While the $300 was not the primary reason people remained unemployed, that doesn't mean it had no influence. There were some upticks in employment once states stopped the extra aid.

  • In Iowa, unemployment rose from 3.9% in May to 4.1% in July — signaling more people are searching for work.

The big picture: The wide array of reasons why people are still unemployed is complicated.

  • Lack of child care, COVID-19 fears, retirement and inability to find a job in a chosen field are all also contributing factors.
Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

3 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.

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