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Countdown to the Unemployment Cliff: North Carolina is Setting itself Apart

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
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Moral Monday draws largest crowd yet; protesters blast plans to cut jobless benefits (audio postcard)

The 8th Moral Monday protest brought an estimated 2,000 demonstrators to N.C. General Assembly. Many in this week’s crowd questioned the wisdom of state lawmakers to reject extended federal unemployment benefits, allowing 70,000 North Carolinians to fall off an unemployment cliff July 1st.

Click below to hear from some of the protesters in their own words:

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‘Unemployment cliff’ will impact small businesses and long-term jobless alike (video)

As Sarah Ovaska details in the post below, in less than a week and a half, more than 70,000 North Carolinians will see their extended federal unemployment benefits dry-up as major changes take effect with the state’s employment security law.

Lawmakers, who fast-tracked this legislation earlier in the session, believe it will improve the state’s business outlook to repay the federal government more quickly the $2.5 billion borrowed at the height of the Great Recession.

But Bill Rowe with the NC Justice Center points out that the federal emergency extension of benefits is already drawing to an end for states at the end of the year. By prematurely making these changes to the state system now, North Carolina is rejecting $600 million to $700 million dollars in federal money over the next six-months that would be pumped directly into local communities:

“When unemployed folks get those dollars, they are going to pay their landlords, they are going to pay their banks, they are going to pay their utility companies, they are going to buy the necessities for their families. And in some communities that are really hard hit by unemployment,those dollars are going to make a big difference for those small businesses,” explains Rowe. “It’s a two hit here, we’re going to hurt some families, but we’re also going to hurt some families that run some businesses.”

Rowe believes legislative leaders with the political will could add a provision to the state budget changing the effective date of the new law from July 1 to January 1, 2014 and allow the emergency benefits to remain in effect through December.

So far, neither budget negotiators nor Gov. Pat McCrory have expressed an interest in doing that.

For a preview of Rowe’s weekend radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below. Also be sure to read Friday’s Fitzsimon File, which has more on the unemployment cliff.

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Large turkey processor to close plant, lay off 1,060 workers

House of RaefordMaking good on predictions issued earlier this year, House of Raeford Farms has given notice to the state Department of Commerce under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (aka the “WARN Act”) that it will be closing its slaughter plant and two support facilities in Raeford as early as July 13. The closures will result in the loss of 1,060 jobs in the small Hoke County community (population 4,600). Click here to read the letter sent by House of Raeford on May 10 as well as a May 13 memo from Commerce Assistant Secretary Roger Shackleford on the subject.   Read more

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The dividing and conquering continues (Video)

In today’s “Friday Follies” edition of his column Chris Fitzsimon reminds us of how remarkably prescient House Speaker Thom Tillis was in his October 2011 speech to Madison County Republicans in which spelled out his plan for dividing and conquering people “on assistance” in our state. Now, as Chris notes, the dividing and conquering has moved on to outright punishment.

In case you’ve forgotten the specifics of Tillis’ offensive remarks, we’re happy to offer an encore presentation below. 

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