With just three weeks left before the New Year, North Carolina’s congressional delegation is feeling stepped-up pressure to pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits.
If Congress fails to extend the emergency federal unemployment insurance program before the holidays, nearly two million Americans would lose benefits. In our state, almost 70,000 North Carolinians would see their benefits expire.
On Thursday, members of the NC AFL-CIO  and community activists demonstrated  outside the district offices of U.S. Reps. Howard Coble and Renee Ellmers, urging them to vote in favor of the extension.
Parnell Baldwin, who was laid off from Thomas Built Buses in High Point, told reporters the weekly stipend represents a “lifeline” for his family as he continues to look for work:
“Without unemployment insurance, I wouldn’t be able to keep food on the table or a roof over my family’s head,” said Baldwin. “It worries me to think about what would happen to us if Congress doesn’t act now.”
The Economic Policy Institute  says allowing the benefits to expire would further harm the nation’s economic recovery, as unemployment benefits are immediately pumped back into the local economy – to cover groceries, rent, fuel, and other necessities. The average weekly benefits check in North Carolina is just under $300.
Congress will resume work on Monday on extending the unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax credit. Both Democrats and Republicans are hoping they can finish their legislative business by the end of next week.