Unemployment dropped last month to 8.8 percent, the fourth straight month of decline as the nation’s economy is regaining its footing, according to seasonally-adjusted numbers released Friday by the N.C. Division of Employment Security.
Nationally, North Carolina is still lagging behind the national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.
But the situation is far from rosy for those still looking for jobs.
In less than two weeks, the state will block 71,000 people July 1 from receiving extended unemployment benefits, federal money that was supposed to flow through the long-term unemployment through the end of the year.
North Carolina, the only state to effectively reject the federal money, is implementing a new, expansive unemployment insurance system adopted by the legislature earlier this year that will aggressively pay down $2.5 billion in debt the state took on in the height of the recession. The maximum amounts of benefits and length of time the jobless can receive benefits were slashed as part of the changes.
Previously, jobless workers could receive up to 26 weeks of benefits, but the state’s new plan will have a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks, based on local unemployment figures and other factors.
Denise Davis is one of those who will be cut off from benefits on July 1. Davis, of Greensboro, said she’s been out of work since last November after being laid off from her job at vitamin production plant.
The single mom of two teenagers said she’s struggled to find replacement work for her $50,000 a year job, and has applied for hundreds of jobs with no responses. Last week, she attended a job opening event at a Burger King and was one of 80 people applying for three jobs at the fast food restaurant.
She hasn’t heard back to see if she’s being considered.
“I’ve been working all my life and I got displaced from my job,” Davis said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. How am I going to pay my mortgage?”
There will be an immediate cutoff of 71,000 people on July 1, and the numbers of those affected by the legislative changes are expected to grow in coming months, as high as 170,000 and more than $700 million in federal money that would have flowed through to jobless workers.
Budget writers could delay the start date of the changes, and allow the federal money to flow through, but there’s been no indication from Republican legislative leaders or Gov. Pat McCrory that will happen.
Mecklenburg County has the most people affected by the July 1 cutoff, followed by Wake, Guilford (where Davis lives) and Cumberland counties.
Below is a searchable database by county of the numbers of those affected by the July 1 cutoff date.
|County Name||Basic Unemployment||Extended Benefits (Subject to July 1 cut-off)|
|OUT OF STATE||6,188||5347|