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Federal Unemployment Cuts Leads to Unrest in North Carolina

 The miseries of high unemployment rate in North Carolinians gets worse with severe cuts in federally sponsored Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). The state’s unemployment rate remains unchanged at 8.8 percent as per the reports released for the month of June by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it one of the top five states in the country.

EUC is a federal extension that provides additional weeks of unemployment benefits after you have run out of regular unemployment benefits provided by the state.

Apparently, NC happens to be the only state to cut off access to the federal EUC. A major slash in state unemployment benefits comes across as an additional blow to the unemployed. The state government has reduced the maximum amount of money that unemployed people can get each week from $535 to $350.

It is this change that cuts off  NC from the federal unemployment funds. States that change the average weekly benefit can’t get this money and this does not end here.

Until recently, the standard limit for state unemployment benefits was 26 weeks. But five states have lowered that number to either 19 or 20, and Georgia has reduced it to 18. Arkansas and Illinois have lowered their limits to 25.

With the new state law, North Carolina’s benefits end after 20 weeks. About 70,000 North Carolinians have already felt the impact of the change, effective from July 1, and an estimated 100,000 more are expected to face cuts in the next few months. These cuts will eventually leave an estimated 170,000 people with no source of income to live on.

These measures have been taken as an attempt to eliminate debt to the federal government of more than $2 billion.

“They are literally hurting people, and it is wrong,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the president of the North Carolina chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “It’s about violating people’s deepest moral values. Even when you have a majority, you’re not allowed to violate moral values.”

These cuts have led to unrest and protests in the state. On July 22, more than 70 protesters were taken to jail during the weekly “Moral Monday” protests at General Assembly, bringing the total number arrested in the legislative session to 925.

“The unemployment benefit cuts are the first real-world impact of the radical, regressive agenda that this legislature has adopted. The pain is starting to be real,” said Penda Hair, a co-director of the Washington-based Advancement Project, a civil rights group that has provided assistance to Moral Monday organizers. “The momentum has built every week. I would expect to see large numbers of people turning out.”

The benefit cuts have some North Carolina legislators arguing that the decision to eliminate the federal benefits starting in July was rushed, especially given the fact that the EUC wasn’t set to expire until January.

“It’s not a time for us to turn our backs on the people who need help the most,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-North Carolina.

But Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said “Delaying the law until then could have burdened businesses and increased debt. The benefits cuts will encourage people to find work faster and then move to a better job as the economy improves,” she said.

“It may not be the job that you want or your career for the rest of your life. But to take a job, get back into the job market,” Howard added.

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    1. Angie,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  1. I have exhausted my unemployment benefits in the state of Texas. When I called and asked how to go about with the extension, I was told that the extension were done away with in 2013. I’ve been looking for work and have yet to find something. Is it possible to receive an extension or are my exhausted benefits the end of the line? And if there is a way for an extension, how do I go about the claiming process?

    1. Jarese,

      I can understand your situation. The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available.

  2. I’ve been receiving UI bennifits for 3 months. I was surprised yesterday when I opened an email asking for one of the companies information, why I left, etc. I called the UI office this morning and was told that this fortune 100 company is able to reply, furthermore fight my claim and possibly making me pay back the claim. I’m just very confused how they, the old company can chime in 12 weeks after my claim was already processed. Even more confused, as the original letter has that companies name on it.
    Thanks!

    1. Evan,

      If you suspect something amiss, please raise an issue with the Unemployment Office. This might be a classic case of fraud.

  3. Hi Jeff,
    I am in California and last month I exhausted all of my unemployment, I turned 61 and never thought that age would be such an issue but can’t seem to land a job. Question – if I don’t get a job by the end of my “current benefits years end” can I open a new claim and be able to receive additional unemployment after my current benefits year runs out?
    Thanks, Don

  4. Can you receive unemployment while receiving severance payments or do you need to wait until all severance is paid to start receiving unemployment?

      1. I’m confused. When I called the Texas Workforce Commission they said Emergency Unemployment Compensation has not been offered in Texas since 2013.
        I asked about Extended Benefits. They took my information and I received a determination that I was eligible. The next day I got another determination that I was not eligible due to:
        ” Issue: Insufficient Wages Between Benefit Years
        Decision: Your claim is not valid. We have cancelled your claim and cannot pay you benefits.
        Reason for Decision: Our investigation found you have not earned wages equal to six (6) times
        your weekly benefit amount since the beginning date of your last benefit year.
        Date of Cancelled Claim: 09-22-19
        Beginning Date of Your Last Benefit Year: 09-16-18
        Law Reference: Subsection 207.021(a)(7) of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act.”

        Actually I had earned ~30k from a severance package since the beginning date of my last benefit year.
        Six times my weekly benefit amount is only~ $3k??

        Any idea?
        Any help would be appreciated.

    1. If you are receiving continuing severance payments, you are not eligible to file for UI benefits until those payments end. You should file your claim after 7 days of the receipt of your last severance payment.

  5. I have been trying very hard to get a number I can call to have one (1), I say again one (1), question answered. I am a contractor and have been working in many states in the course of my career. My last job was here in Mobile AL at ST Engineering Aerospace and I saw something about needing to be employed for 18 months in Alabama to qualify for benefits. I had a claim in Tennessee and they have a way of filing when you have worked in different states. I forget what it is called but my question to you is does Alabama have a way that I can file after working in different states?

    1. Kevin,

      Please note this is a private forum. If you’ve filed from TN, suggest you reach out to the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  6. DO YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT A POSITION THAT HAD OFFERED YOU SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER WAGES THAN YOUR PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT; ESPECIALLY IF THE WAGES DO NOT COVER YOUR MONTHLY FINANCIAL
    OBLIGATIONS?

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