international-womens-day2On the heels of International Women’s Day – celebrated on March 8th to honor and celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women –  the Institute for Women’s Policy Research together with the North Carolina Council for Women, has released the Status of Women in North Carolina report. The report shows that despite women’s higher levels of education and the significant increase in labor force participation over the past decades, wage and income inequality persists in the state.

According to the report, between 1990 and 2010, in North Carolina:

  • The share of women with at least a bachelor’s degree increased sharply from 16 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2010.
  • The share of women who did not finish high school fell from 30 to 13 percent.
  • The proportion of women in poverty increased from 14 to 17 percent

The fact that more women continue to fall into poverty (the state ranks 39th in the percent of women living above the poverty line) despite higher levels of education and career positions is explained in part by the wage gap. Read More

LOVE - No Raise in 21 YearsIf you are planning on going out to eat tonight, love the one you’re with, but don’t forget to thank those hard working women and men who prepare and serve your meal.

ROC-United held its annual Day of Action yesterday on 2.13 to highlight the low tipped minimum wage of $2.13 as well as the lack of access most restaurant workers have to crucial benefits like health insurance and earned paid sick days. Co-founder of ROC, and author of the just released book Behind the Kitchen Door, Saru Jayaraman noted:

Our food comes at great expense to the workers who provide it. The biggest workforce in America can’t put food on the table except when they go to work.

While it’s not a surprise that the vast majority of restaurant workers don’t have access to health insurance through their employers, it’s a particularly poignant fact for North Carolinians these days.

The median annual wage of those working in food prep/serving occupations is about $18K, Read More

This morning, a bill to overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system will be heard in the House Finance Committee.  Fundamental toRUNNER-MEME-DRAFT-13-cropped-final1-300x243 the argument for the radical overhaul of the system is that our program is out of line with the systems in other states.

A review of state programs, however, shows that North Carolina’s program is currently in the middle of the pack. The overhaul will move us to the back of the pack on many measures, and on others completely off the charts.

  • North Carolina’s current maximum duration is 26 weeks, the same as 43 other states. The proposed duration is a sliding scale from 12 to 20 weeks. No other state has a sliding scale for the minimum number of weeks while only two states (Florida and Georgia) have a sliding scale for the maximum number of weeks. Read more about the impacts of the proposed sliding scale.
  • North Carolina’s current average weekly benefit amount ranks 23rd compared to other states. The proposal to cut the maximum and to use the last two quarters to calculate the benefit amount would push us to the bottom of the list.
  • North Carolina’s current maximum benefit amount is indexed to the average weekly wage – this is how most states calculate the maximum. The proposal to have a flat maximum of $350 per week would push us to the bottom 15 states. Read more about the effect of cutting the maximum benefit amount here.

The temporary wage replacement for workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own helps workers and their families meet their basic needs and stabilizes the economy. North Carolina currently has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the country. Now is not the time to push our program to the back of the pack. Take a look at the facts. Take action here.

It’s been a busy day in Raleigh, and tomorrow policymakers will be considering a bill to overhaul North Carolina’s unemployment insurance (UI) system in a House committee. One aspect of the bill that has not gotten much attention is the proposed elimination of the family hardship, disability and health, and trailing spouse provisions.

The family hardship provision allows a worker to remain eligible for UI benefits if she/he loses a job solely because she/he is 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 allows a worker to remain eligible for UI benefits  if she/she leaves her/his job solely because she/he or their minor child, aged or disabled parent or other immediate family member have a disability or health condition that justifies leaving.

And the trailing spouse provision allows a worker to remain eligible for UI benefits if a worker quits her/his job because her/his spouse is transferred to a geographic location that is too far for her/his spouse to commute.

Eliminating these provisions is not going to fix the current debt. Claims brought under these provisions represent a tiny proportion of UI claims and benefits paid out. But they can make a huge difference to North Carolina workers and their families. For more information about these provisions, take a look at our fact sheet.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) reform is on the table, and we are continuing to write about the proposed policies and the claims behind these policies under the heading “Parade of Horribles.” First up in the parade was a reduction in maximum benefits amounts. Following close behind is:

2. Reductions in the average weekly benefit amount

North Carolina’s current average weekly benefit amount of $296 is right in the middle of the pack compared to other states, with a state ranking of 23rd.  And the way benefit amounts are currently calculated is in line with the majority of other states. The proposal on the table changes the way workers’ benefit amounts are calculated in a way no other state has ever attempted.

Today’s News and Observer op-ed calls this proposal “a body blow to the unemployed.” Take action here.