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On July 1, the federal emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program will end in North Carolina and 70,000 out of work North Carolinians will lose access to this modest support (unless our state leaders take action).

In addition to creating the loss of EUC, HB 4 drastically cuts benefits. And that’s not all – HB4 eliminates several small, but crucial eligibility provisions and revises the “suitable work” requirements.

After July 1, 2013, North Carolinians will no longer be eligible for UI under:

  • the family hardship provision, which allowed a worker to remain eligible for UI benefits if she lost a job solely because she was unable to accept work during a particular shift because of the inability to secure child care, eldercare, or care for a disabled family member.
  •  the disability and health provision, Read More

As we wrote yesterday, the implementation of HB4 – the radical restructuring of North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system – is just around the corner. Next Monday, on July 1st, North Carolina will set itself apart. Our state will have the dubious distinction of being the ONLY state in the nation to:

  • Reject participation in the 100% federally-funded emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program. Due to the implementation date of July 1, North Carolina breaks a non-reduction rule prohibiting states from making benefit cuts while participating in the federal EUC program. As a result of the decision to implement changes in July 3013 instead of January 2014, 70,000 jobless workers in North Carolina will abruptly lose benefits next week. No other state has rejected federal participation in order to pursue benefit cuts.
  • Have a sliding scale for the minimum number of weeks available. Read More

In all of the slashing and cutting that’s going on within this budget process, you might have missed a small but important provision to eliminate the Displaced Homemaker Program. It was in the budget adopted by the Senate last month and showed up this morning in the money report from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. Despite the admittedly outdated-sounding name, this program provides important workforce development services to a population with significant barriers to self-sufficiency.

“Displaced homemakers” have traditionally been those who have provided unpaid household services for their homes and families and can’t secure living wage employment because of a lack of training or experience. Examples of today’s displaced homemakers  include an under-employed working parent Read More

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.Children with unemployed parents in NC

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 Read More

President Obama’s focus on the minimum wage as a key strategy for spurring economic growth by putting money back in the pockets of working people has sparked a long-overdue national conversation about raising the minimum wage. The Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project has released a report analyzing the impact of a raise on North Carolina’s working families and the state’s still struggling economy.

North Carolina’s minimum wage tracks the federal standard of $7.25 per hour, which means that a full-time minimum wage worker earns roughly $15,080 per year. A conservative measure of actual family costs for one adult and one child in North Carolina requires an income of more than twice this amount. And the price of food, gas and utilities has steadily climbed while the value of the minimum wage has not.

President Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour and the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, introduced a few weeks after the President’s State of the Union speech, calls for a raise to $10.10 per hour by 2015 (and notably also calls for a raise in the extremely low tipped minimum wage of $2.13). Both proposals would affect approximately half a million workers in North Carolina. Contrary to stereotypes of minimum wage workers, the vast majority of these workers are adults over 20 years old.

And a raise would disproportionately impact women in North Carolina, Read More