The following post was written by Stan C. Kimer – Immediate Past President of the NC Council of Churches – in response to an op-ed  claiming that North Carolina’s unemployment insurance cuts have led to more employed Tar Heels.
(It’s also worth reading UNC Economist Patrick Conway’s response  to the same op-ed pointing out that the unemployment rate in our state has dropped because of discouraged workers leaving the labor force; a response  written by one of the 70,000 unemployed workers who lost benefits due to the General Assembly’s actions; and this post  by the NC Budget and Tax Center’s Allan Freyer, setting the record straight.)
Two weeks ago there was an op-ed by Brian Balfour claiming that cutting unemployment benefits has led to more employed North Carolinians. This was followed up by an article on the front page of Sunday’s N&O presenting that much of the decline in unemployment may instead be due to discouraged people simply dropping out of the workforce.
As the Immediate Past President of the North Carolina Council of Churches, with membership across 17 denominations and many churches statewide, how should people of faith respond to chronic unemployment? Christian scripture speaks of uplifting and encouraging others, being our brother’s keeper, helping those in need.
As a person of faith, I believe that cutting off assistance when families need it the most is the proverbial “kicking a person when they are already down on the ground hurting.” This is opposite of the Good Samaritan who instead found a man hurt and bleeding on the side of the road and offered assistance.
Providing needed assistance is truly a form of encouragement. By providing fair unemployment benefits, those without a job can have some of the financial pressures relieved, gain a modicum of self-respect and inspiration, and have more energy to find employment.
Stan C. Kimer, Raleigh, NC
Immediate Past President, NC Council of Churches