A new national report released by the Urban Institute and First Focus shows that 1 in 10 children in North Carolina lived in a family with at least one unemployed parent in 2012, a percentage that has more than doubled since the start of the Great Recession in 2007.
As the report highlights, the effects of parental job loss on children can be severe. Economic stress links to parents’ responses to their children and children’s wellbeing. And studies of unemployment and family income show that poverty increases sharply among the long-term unemployed. The adverse effects of children living in poverty can last well into adulthood.
The report also points to the importance of the safety net.
Unemployment insurance can cushion the adverse effects of unemployment – and help stabilize the economy during economic downturns – by providing families with cash benefits to offset some of their lost wages.
Unfortunately for North Carolina’s jobless workers and their children, the General Assembly has decided to slash unemployment benefits at a time when the unemployment rate continues to hover above 9 percent.
The changes in the law will take effect on July 1, 2013, when the maximum number of weeks will be reduced from 26 to a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks, the maximum benefit cut to $350, and important eligibility provisions will be lost.
We recently spoke with an unemployed worker from Winston-Salem who first lost his job in the advertising industry when his company went out of business in 2008. He was able to find work in 2010 (though he had to commute 1,000 miles per week), but was recently laid off again. “They’re out of touch,” he said of lawmakers. “It’s more than just me and what I need…If my mom needs help, I try to help out. This is bigger than just an individual collecting $535…The people that lose out are my kids.”