This week, as the legislature begins to consider Unemployment Insurance (UI) reform, we’ll be writing about the proposed policies and the claims behind these policies under the heading “Parade of Horribles.”
1. Reducing the maximum benefit level
Yesterday’s $350 challenge in Raleigh called attention to the fact that the legislature’s UI reform proposal attempts to solve the business debt to the federal government by pushing most of it onto the backs of unemployed workers. $350 is the new proposed maximum weekly jobless benefit under consideration.
Here are some additional facts to consider:
- One-third of all North Carolina workers would qualify for the current maximum if they were to lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
- Cutting the maximum to $350 would affect workers earning approximately $37,000 or more. Our infographic provides examples of affected professions.
- $350 falls $524 dollars short of the Living Income Standard. It takes $874 per week for a family of three in North Carolina to afford the actual costs of essential expenses like housing, food, healthcare and transportation.
- The current calculation of maximum benefit amounts (66.7 percent of the average weekly wage) is in line with 35 states whose maximum benefit is indexed to between 47.6 percent and 75 percent of the state’s average weekly wage. The proposed cut caps the maximum benefit regardless of wage growth, cost of living, or inflation.
- The proposed cut slashes maximum benefits by one-third. No other state has ever reduced its maximum benefit so severely.
- The maximum reduction alone will take $105 million out of the North Carolina economy.