US Jobless Claims Rise Due to Hurricane Florence

US Jobless Claims Rise Due to Hurricane Florence

Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose but remained near a 49 year low. This increase appeared unlikely to make a dent in the US labor market which remains strong.

The claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 7,000 and adjusted to 214,000 for the week. Earlier, economists suggested that the claims forecast was slipping to 206,000 from 207,000.

Claimed increased for South and North Carolina which were affected by Hurricane Florence and claims for Virginia and Puerto Rico were being estimated. The four weeks moving average of initial claims considered a better measure of labor market trends which irons out week-to-week volatility which rose by 2,500 to 209,500

The labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment, which many economists believe is helping U.S. wages grow a little more quickly and fueling expectations the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates again in December. This year alone, the Fed has already raised rates three times.

The claim report expressed that the number of people receiving benefits after the initial week of aid rose 4,000 to 1.66 million for the week ended September 29. The four weeks moving average of the so-called continued claims which has decreased 10,000 to 1.66 million to the lowest level since August 1973.

People seeking help with lost wages from Florence has surpassed Matthew. This is nearly 9300 North Carolinians that have applied for disaster-related unemployment benefits due to Hurricane Florence.

Many of these people which is nearly 8000 have applied for disaster unemployment assistance which is an additional benefit for those that are left without wages due to the storm. This is nearly four times the number of people that requested for disaster unemployment assistance after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

There are several in Eastern North Carolina that have not resulted in several days and weeks without pay. These are hourly workers, self-employed workers, fishermen, and farmers. Most lost wages at the end of the month especially when they have to make payments for mortgage, rent or electricity.

Metros Hit Badly

The state has made payments of more than $300,000 in claims and this could easily pay out several million. After Hurricane Matthew, payouts reached more than $2.8 million for storm-related unemployment claims. There were more than 7545 applications for regular unemployment and around 2200 for DUA after the storm.

Hurricane Florence had a much larger impact on metropolitan areas, such as Wilmington, Jacksonville, and New Bern, while Hurricane Matthew hit more rural areas. The storm hit areas which have a higher labor market which means greater claims numbers.

Disaster unemployment assistance is available to people who live in one of the 28 counties approved for a federal disaster. This is for residents that cannot work as the roads are flooded, power outages and damage to the building are constraints to their work.

It also helps those who are ineligible for standard unemployment insurance recoup some of those lost wages from the storm. People may not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits because they’ve already used their 12-week allotment for the year or because they haven’t been in their job long enough to qualify for benefits.

However, workers should apply for standard unemployment as well as DUA. While standard unemployment benefits pay up to $350 a week for 12 weeks, DUA pays up to $350 a week for up to 27 weeks.

The Division of Employment Security has been busy since Florence hit North Carolina with all employees helping process claims. In Onslow County, the DES used the Division of Workforce Solutions’ only bus to make a mobile computer lab to process applications.

Scotland County which has the state’s largest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent had the state’s NC Works office handling claims in downtown Laurinburg. This area was flooded by the storm and forced workers to temporarily relocate to Scotland County’s economic development office.

Most roads in Scotland County’s rural region was flooded and damaged which kept away many workers from their jobs.

NC Works employees moved to Kordsa in Laurel Hill to assist with the worker’s file claims. Places like Kordsa, which employs around 100 people which manufactures nylon wiring for tires. The company’s building lost power and the roads around it flooded, causing it to halt operations for four days.

How to Apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance

If you are a worker from one of these 28 counties in Eastern North Carolina then you have been approved for federal disaster assistance.

Eligible counties are: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne and Wilson.

The eligibility criteria for DUA include the following where an individual should meet one or more of these conditions as a direct result of a major disaster

  • No longer have a job
  • Unable to reach their place of employment
  • Scheduled to start work but unable to reach the job
  • Become the breadwinner or major support of family because of disaster-related death of the head of household
  • Cannot work because of injury directly caused by the declared disaster

22 thoughts on “How To Survive Unemployment”

  1. I am currently receiving unemployment in texas and my benefits is coming to an end and I still have not found a job can I apply for an extension.

    1. Andie,

      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.

  2. I work for a car wash in Reno,NV. Now that its winter time can I file a claim to make up for the lack of hours I was accustomed to before winter. now granted the people in charge are always screaming we gotta keep labor down. To me the way they keep labor down is not giving the employees there schedueled breaks and making them punch out for an additional 30min. Now because of that I lose more than 10 hours per week. that’s affecting my pay check tremendously. So my question is can I file a claim to make up the difference and keep my job?

    1. Henry,

      If you’re on the rolls of your employer (not on contract) and the employer remits unemployment taxes into the system, you can be eligible to claim partial UI benefits.

    1. Stephen,

      You should have applied for benefits during the period of unemployment. You will not be able to claim in retrospect. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.


  4. I worked in PA for the last 8 months and for 4 years in NJ before that. There was no break in employment. I was laid off yesterday from the PA job. I think I should apply in PA but how would I make sure that wages from both states are accounted for?

  5. I worked in Maryland for 5 years and was on Maryland unemployment for a month before finding another job and should still have an active Maryland claim there. The new company I work for is based in Virginia and I started in early November until the government shutdown in late Dec. Should I file a new claim in Virginia or continue with Maryland UE? Also I picked up a part time job on weekends 3 weeks ago averaging about 18 hours. How would that work?

    1. Matt,

      Since you’ve already filed a claim in Maryland, please wait for a determination to be made. You should report the income from the part-time job to the Unemployment Office. Please call the Claims Center.

    1. Ralph,

      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.

  6. I worked in Washington State in January, 2017 to March, 2018. I worked in Montana from March, 2018 to March, 2019 My residence is in Washington State. Which state do I apply for Unemployment Insurance?