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South Carolina, Unemployment Numbers and Income: Today's Roundup of Stimulus Coverage

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)Here is today's roundup of stimulus coverage:

South Carolina's Supreme Court ordered Gov. Mark Sanford to request $700 million in federal stimulus funds. Sanford previously insisted that he would only request the money if he could use it to pay down state debt. State legislators, however, used a special provision in the stimulus bill to bypass Sanford and budget the money to save teaching jobs and prevent tuition hikes. When Sanford stood fast, two students and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators sued the governor to force his hand. Sanford criticized the court's decision, arguing that it gives the legislature too much power to trump the state executive, but said that he won't appeal. "In South Carolina," Sanford told the Associated Press, "in many ways, we don't have three branches of government. We only have one."

The economy continued to bleed jobs in May, reaching a 9.4 percent unemployment rate, the Labor Department reported this morning. But there are signs of improvement -- Americans lost 345,000 jobs last month compared to an average of 643,000 in each of the last six months. Could the stimulus have helped? Hundreds of highway contracts were awarded in May, and states have stemmed layoffs thanks to an influx of federal education money. But Republicans have been on the attack, noting that the president's chief economist Christina Romer predicted back in January that a stimulus package would limit unemployment to 8.8 percent.

In other economic news, USA Today reports that benefits such as unemployment checks, Social Security, food stamps and health care accounted for 16 percent of Americans' personal income in the first quarter of 2009 -- the highest percentage since 1929. The stimulus pumped nearly $200 billion into those benefits.

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