NC Unemployment

North Carolina Legislative building
NC General Assembly

  Moral Monday protests resume as the General Assembly's short session continues. Protestors visit individual lawmakers today to lobby for Medicaid expansion, unemployment insurance and education reform. Last week, the North Carolina Senate approved a fracking bill and tentatively approved a regulatory overhaul. Both pieces of legislation may face challenges in the House. 

Fingers on a keyboard, computer,
Wikimedia Commons

Numbers from the state Commerce Department show the unemployment rate fell all across the state during the past year.  But analysts say the economic recovery is still modest.

Who has the lowest unemployment in the state? Chatham and Orange Counties - 4.6 percent. 

Where is the highest jobless rate? Graham County - 12.7 percent.

While the jobless rate fell in all 100 counties, the number of people who reported having jobs decreased in about one-third of the counties.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest figures on the state’s unemployed. But do these numbers paint an accurate picture of the jobs economy in North Carolina?

Host Frank Stasio talks to Triangle Business Journal Reporter Jason deBruyn about the latest statistics and the ways to count the unemployed. His recent coverage includes:

Men stand in line to receive free coffee and donuts for the unemployed - depression-era photograph
wikimedia commons

  The state's unemployment rate is on a downward trend, but the meaning of those numbers is the subject of debate. Some believe it is a sign of a comeback while others believe it is skewed statistic. Debate over unemployment extends to the federal level, as an unemployment bill with a North Carolina-specific provision struggles to reach a vote in the United States House. 

A picture of the newspaper want ads
Creative Commons / http://mycareerinfo.ca

The state unemployment rate is dropping, but the labor force is also shrinking. 

The North Carolina Department of Commerce reports unemployment fell from 8.8 percent in January 2013 to 6.7 percent in January 2014.  But that number doesn't include people who have stopped looking for work.  The state's labor force is made up of people who work or are trying to find jobs, and that pool shrank by more than 60,000 people during the year. 

North Carolina State University Economist Michael Walden said 2013 was somewhat of a disappointing year for job growth.

Dale Folwell, Assistant Commerce Secretary for Employment Security, wants job seekers to verify more work searches per week.
NC Commerce

Thousands of jobless North Carolinians have been waiting for several weeks to get their first unemployment check.  State officials say they hope to have that back-log under control this month.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Dale Folwell heads the employment agency responsible for making sure the unemployed get their checks.

“Anytime there’s one case in our backlog, that’s one too many," said Folwell.

DES Office
Leoneda Inge

For ten years, North Carolina attorneys have had access to a daily list of unemployed workers who are scheduled for appeal hearings.   Most of these people had their unemployment claims denied and are appealing the decision. 

But last week, the Division of Employment Security said it would no longer provide a daily list of these hearings.  A Durham attorney is fighting back and has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce and its employment division.

Thousands marched to the North Carolina State Capitol building on Saturday.
James Willamor via Flickr

Organizers of Saturday’s moral march on Raleigh plan to use the event’s momentum to mobilize voters, they say. The event follows last year’s weekly Moral Monday rallies that criticized laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led government.  The new focus is on the fall elections.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

Thousands of people are expected to march in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, some coming in buses from other states, to call on North Carolina legislators to reverse laws they’ve signed over the last year including requiring voters to show IDs in polling stations, reducing unemployment benefits and blocking Medicaid expansion.

Image of NC General Assembly where lawmakers are considering two controversial bills.
Credit NC General Assembly

It's not clear whether Governor Pat McCrory would make extended unemployment benefits available to North Carolinians if Congress passes a law that would revive them nationwide. Governor McCrory would have final say on whether to accept those benefits.

A bill being debated in the U.S. Senate would give a three-month extension to those who've been unemployed for months. At a state legislative meeting, Democratic Representative Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk said he knows many of his constituents need help.

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