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Members of Congress head to their home districts for a 10-day work period having failed this week to pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits.

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, says it is critical that members of the  House and Senate address this crisis. Owens says the recent decline in the unemployment rate is largely the result of workers dropping out of the labor force.

NELP notes the average duration of unemployment exceeds 37 weeks, and that 38 percent of those who are jobless have been out of work for six months or more.

Owens appears this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s radio show News and Views. For a preview of her interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below.

Congress returns  to work January 27th.

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mccrory1106More confirmation today that Gov. Pat McCroy’s contempt for people in need (and the facts) literally knows no bounds. Check out this excerpt from Mark Binker’s story at WRAL.com about unemployment insurance and some new and utterly ridiculous statements  from the Guv:

“‘We had the ninth-most-generous unemployment compensation in the country,’ McCrory said. ‘We were having a lot of people move here, frankly, from other areas to get unemployment … People were moving here because of our very generous benefits, and then, of course, we had more debt. I personally think that more people got off unemployment and either got jobs or moved back to where they came from.’”

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at someone who is that pathetically misinformed — a) people who become unemployed elsewhere and then move here aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits and b) even if they were somehow eligible,  the average benefit was something like $290 a week prior to McCrory’s cuts!

 

In remarks at Monday’s economic forecast forum, a number of speakers sought to take credit for enacting policies in 2013 that they believe have contributed to big drops in the unemployment rate since last January, an idea that has been repeated in recent business news reports. Unfortunately, as much as we all want to make progress reducing North Carolina’s persistent joblessness, we’re still waiting for a jobs recovery to actually happen.

The unfortunate reality is that the unemployment rate may have fallen due to mathematical quirk in how it’s calculated, but unemployment itself still remains high due to anemic job creation and a contracting labor force.

Perhaps the most problematic claim involves the mistaken notion that the General Assembly’s deep cuts to unemployment benefits that took effect in June somehow spurred an impressive reduction in unemployment in the following months. According to this view, the “employment effect” associated with cutting unemployment benefits forces workers to find jobs that they otherwise would not have accepted because the wages of those new jobs pay less than what their old jobs paid. And since the unemployment rate has gone down, proponents of these cuts have argued that the employment effect must have worked in just this way.

There is a serious problem with this idea—it assumes that unemployed workers who lost their benefits in June went out and found jobs in August through November, a claim that just doesn’t bear up under serious scrutiny.

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Traditionally, official press releases issued from the offices of high public officials carry some imprimatur of solemnity and seriousness. While one realizes at some level that they’re ultimately just a way of the official in question to communicate with the media and the public, the releases still typically come with (and convey) an air of officialdom — i.e. that they are public documents issued by the public official in his or her official government capacity.

With this as background, check out a couple of recent “press releases” from Gov. Pat McCrory that sound and look more like dashed-off blog posts.

On Tuesday of this week, the Governor of North Carolina issued an official press release that was simply a reprinted Wall Street Journal editorial about the evils of extended unemployment benefits. It even included the social media abbreviation “ICYMI” in the headline – as in “ICYMI: Wall Street Journal: How to Keep Workers Unemployed.”

Then, just yesterday, the Governor issued another “official” press release. It said the following: 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