The failure of the U.S. Senate to extend federal unemployment insurance programs that expired at the end of July means jobless workers have will soon have lost a month of income.
Economists suggest that the cumulative effect of that lost income could create a reduction in economic growth similar to that experienced during the Great Recession. Concerns are already mounting that consumer spending is slowing.
And with the latest data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday showing an increase in initial claims week over week, more than 600,000 North Carolinians are receiving or waiting to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
For jobless workers, their families, landlords, and neighbors, the loss of the federal $600/week boost will lead to real and immediate impacts on housing stability, access to food, and poverty rates, as well as the associated threats to health — both in the near and long-term.
The White House’s Executive Order is no substitute for congressional action. The inadequate proposal from the Trump Administration will push costs to states and create administrative challenges in implementation, all while using unsustainable sources of funds and failing to commit to keep supports in place through a secured recovery.
As legislative leaders and Governor Cooper have noted, North Carolina can take action to improve the rules governing our own unemployment insurance system—a system with the dubious distinction of being the worst in the nation after changes made by lawmakers in 2013.
The importance of a state fix, now and for the long-term, should be clear as we see the barriers to access that jobless workers have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the broad-based ripple effects of job loss throughout our communities.
Here are four steps the North Carolina General Assembly can take to ensure our state unemployment insurance system can support an inclusive economic recovery: Read more