NC Budget and Tax Center

Parade of Horribles: Sliding Scale Scheme for Unemployment Insurance Duration

Today, county level unemployment rate data was released and tomorrow, policymakers plan to consider the bill to overhaul our state’s unemployment insurance system in a House committee.  In December 2012, we now know that unemployment rates by counties ranged from a high of 16.6 percent in Scotland County to 5.9 percent in Orange County. The state average was 9.5 percent for that month. In light of one aspect of the unemployment insurance bill that kind of variation suggests that unemployed workers will be treated differently by the system based on where they live.

That’s because the bill under consideration includes a provision that establishes a sliding scale for the minimum and maximum duration of weeks that an unemployed worker can receive unemployment insurance benefits based on the state unemployment rate. (We should note that no other state has a sliding scale for the minimum number of weeks while only two states (Florida and Georgia) have a sliding scale for the maximum number of weeks.)

The affect of this provision will be that in counties where the labor market makes it much more difficult to find work, workers who are unemployed will face significantly reduced weeks that are reflective of the state average not local conditions.  In the 2001 recession, forty six counties had unemployment rates higher than the state unemployment rate to a level that should push them into a longer duration.  In the “boom” year of 2006, twenty three counties faced similar conditions.  The result is that their residents who are out of work and receiving unemployment benefits will have fewer weeks than the local labor market conditions merit as policymakers have acknowledged by setting up this very scheme.  In fact, depending on the county’s unemployment rate, the loss in weeks could be as high as eight meaning two full months without a modest, temporary wage replacement.

Another disturbing affect of this provision is that the benefit duration will effectively be cut in half from the current 26 weeks. Even in previous periods of recession, the state unemployment rate did not reach a level that would merit a maximum duration on the new sliding scale scheme of more than 15 weeks.  During most of the time, the duration of weeks will hover at a mere 12 weeks. Maximum Weeks Sliding Scale

One Comment


  1. […] (Florida and Georgia) have a sliding scale for the maximum number of weeks. Read more about the impacts of the proposed sliding […]

Check Also

Senate tax plan would eliminate health insurance coverage for millions to pay for tax cuts for richest Americans

The Senate tax bill released last week follows ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

The controversy over “Silent Sam,” the Confederate monument on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, has been ra [...]

North Carolina tries to mine its swine and deal with a poop problem that keeps piling up A blanket o [...]

This story is part of "Peak Pig," an examination of the hog industry co-published with Env [...]

Few issues in the North Carolina’s contentious policy wars have been more consistently front and cen [...]

Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a jaw-dropping civil rights lawsuit again [...]

Will Burr and Tillis really vote for this? For much of the 20th Century, one of the labels that Amer [...]

President Trump and Congressional Republicans aim to rebrand enormous tax cuts for the wealthiest ho [...]

20—number of years since a bipartisan coalition in Congress passed the Children’s Health Insurance P [...]

Spotlight on Journalism

We invite you to join a special celebration of investigative journalism! The evening will feature Mike Rezendes, a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe Spotlight Team known for their coverage of the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Tickets available NOW!

Spotlight On Journalism

This event will benefit NC Policy Watch, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. Sponsorship opportunities available now!

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more