Unemployment

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, flanked by state Rep. Rosa Gill (D-Wake) and state Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake)
Jorge Valencia

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said on Monday that she’s pushing to make long-term unemployed people in North Carolina eligible again for federal emergency unemployment benefits.

Hagan, a Democrat, introduced a provision for a possible extension of nationwide unemployment benefits that would make North Carolina eligible again, she said. The state was disqualified from Emergency Unemployment Compensation last year after the Republican-led General Assembly reduced benefits at the state level.

NC Policy Watch
NC Policy Watch

The state’s jobless rate in August 2013 is the lowest it’s been in the past year.  But there is still a big loss in payroll jobs.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 8.7%, down 0.2 of a percentage point from July and nearly a full point down from this time last year.  The national jobless rate is 7.3%.

North Carolina House lawmakers have tentatively passed a bill largely along party lines that would lower benefits for unemployed workers. The measure would reduce the maximum weekly allowed benefit from $500 to $350. It would also reduce the maximum amount of time a laid-off worker could receive benefits from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks. Democratic Representative Paul Luebke said this is the wrong bill to be passing at a time when unemployment in the state is high.

State lawmakers in the House plan to take up a bill this evening that would reduce unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.  House Bill 4 is expected to reach the floor for lawmakers to consider tonight. The measure would speed up repayment of North Carolina’s 2.57 billion dollar debt to the federal government. The state borrowed that money to help pay unemployment benefits to a rapidly growing number of people who lost their jobs during the recession.

  The General Assembly is expected to consider legislation this week that will reform the federal unemployment insurance program. Republican leaders say the changes will help pay back a growing debt the state owes the federal government.

Advocates for workers say they are unnecessary and will push thousands of residents over a financial cliff. News and Observer reporter Mandy Locke joins Frank Stasio to discuss the changes and how it may affect tens of thousands of North Carolina residents.

North Carolina’s metropolitan areas show some positive momentum in the jobs front. But three areas in the state lag behind the rest.

Almost 100-percent of the job growth in North Carolina since the end of the recession in 2009 has occurred in the state’s metropolitan areas.   And Allan Fryer, a policy analyst with the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center says 90-percent of the job growth has occurred in only three metro areas – Raleigh, Charlotte and Durham.

Many people could end up paying more with the latest draft proposal to overhaul the state’s unemployment system and re-pay the federal government. 

Tessie Bethel is a laid off custodian.   Her unemployment runs out before Christmas.  She gets 179-dollars a week.

Tessie Bethel:  "I had to pay 85-dollars for an eye exam yesterday.  It’s gone. I only have 40-dollars left for up until next Tuesday again. It  doesn’t last."

A nnational report shows the number of working teenagers and young adults is at its lowest point in 50 years. 

A manufacturing plant in High Point will close by the end of next year and more than 600 people could lose their jobs.

The state Commerce Department says North Carolina's unemployment rate has risen slightly.  The state's unemployment rate went up to 9-point-7 percent in August. Analysts say that translates to nearly six thousand more people reported as being out of work. That brings the total number of unemployed in North Carolina to more than 450,000.

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