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Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday ordered the termination of the state's participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.

Driving the news: McMaster cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining the pace at which people are returning to work.

  • The state currently has 81,684 open positions, according to Department of Employment and Workforce Director Dan Ellzey.

What he's saying: "South Carolina’s businesses have borne the brunt of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," McMaster wrote in a letter to Ellzey.

  • "Those businesses that have survived – both large and small, and including those in the hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors – now face an unprecedented labor shortage," he added.
  • "What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement."
  • The move takes effect June 30.

The big picture: As economic recovery continues, states have moved to return their labor force to pre-pandemic levels.

  • McMaster's announcement follows a similar move by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) earlier this week, per AP.
  • A Labor Department spokesperson told AP that the department has seen no evidence that enhanced unemployment benefits keep people from seeking work. “Choosing to eliminate these critical benefits will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable,” the spokesperson said.
  • Several states, including Arizona, Florida and Kentucky, have said they're reinstating full work search requirements for people who receive unemployment benefits.

Go deeper

The post-pandemic economy has already arrived

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With the recession officially ending in April 2020, we're now 16 months into the recovery and the contours of the post-pandemic economy have taken shape.

Why it matters: While the coronavirus continues to infect roughly 100,000 new Americans every day, it's no longer driving the course of the economy.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Aug 6, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Why you should expect longer lines at the Iowa State Fair this year

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Iowa State Fair organizers say there are worker shortages abound this year ranging from parking attendants to bartenders to corn dog cooks.

Why it matters: You'll likely have to wait a little longer in lines, especially if attendance reaches 2019's record-breaking levels.

Stock buybacks boom as corporate cash piles grow

The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year. 

Why it matters: Companies hoarded cash and raised prices over the past year — leaving them with a lot of money and decisions about what to do with it.