Commentary, COVID-19

General Assembly still needs to address the deficiencies NC’s unemployment insurance system

Not even the worst economic crisis in generations, with more than
1 million North Carolinians out of work, could move House negotiators on COVID-19 relief legislation to agree to a small, positive step to fix the state’s broken Unemployment Insurance (UI) program.

This past weekend, state House conferees refused to accept the Senate’s provision in SB 704 (COVID-19 Recovery Act) that would have increased the maximum weekly UI benefit from $350 to $400 and temporarily changed how the state calculates UI weekly benefits. This formula was adopted in 2013 for the sole purpose of reducing the assistance available to those out of work through no fault of their own. North Carolina is the only state to use such a harsh formula in calculating UI benefits.

Hopefully, the General Assembly will address the deficiencies of North Carolina’s UI system. It has the unwelcome distinction of being one of the worst in the country for the amount and duration of benefits, along with a rock-bottom “recipiency” rate of less than 9% of North Carolina’s unemployed receiving benefits.

Despite these troubling facts, there are still positive signs that progress can be made. The state Senate deserves credit for its bipartisan and unanimous support for these improvements, and the North Carolina Chamber has said it is willing to consider supporting changes that lift the state’s UI system from being the stingiest for workers when they need it most.

What is unclear at this point is if the leaders of the House will ever consider doing the same. That uncertainty is incredibly disappointing and quite remarkable during these unprecedented times. We hope the next time the General Assembly comes back into session in a few weeks, action will be taken to repair North Carolina’s broken UI’s system.

Bill Rowe is General Counsel and Deputy Director of Advocacy at the North Carolina Justice Center. He has worked in the field of unemployment insurance on behalf of North Carolina workers for more than three decades.

One Comment


  1. Garr Gorham

    May 6, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    With the election looming Nov 3rd, it would be in Berger and Moore’s best interest along with the rest of the GOP In Raleigh legislators to make right from wrong on the inexcusable disaster they made to the state’s UI program in 2013. The entire state is practically unemployed and the voters are in a world of hurt. The Dems will have a field day with this issue weeks leading up to voting! Good luck getting re-elected!

Check Also

Veteran attorney explains specific upgrades NC should make to its unemployment insurance system

[Editor’s note: For more than 30 years, Bill ...

State and Federal COVID-19 policy updates

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Historic congressional hearing examines the pandemic's disparate racial and ethnic impacts WASH [...]

At the end of an hour-long question-and-answer session with UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiew [...]

North Carolina House lawmakers will consider an elections bill today that would provide temporary fu [...]

If the North Carolina Department of Transportation's financial practices were a highway, it wou [...]

The post Tarred Heel. appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Yesterday – the 75th Memorial Day since the end of World War II (and the first in more than century [...]

The post Hark the sound of childhood hunger appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

We’ve known for a long time that former President Barack Obama lives rent-free inside Donald Trump’s [...]