Archives

Uncategorized

Another good editorial from Raleigh’s N&O on the scandalous end of unemployment benefits that commences today:

“Reflecting little more than their distaste for federal safety net programs and their lack of care for the unemployed in North Carolina, Republicans in the General Assembly cut the maximum unemployment benefit to $350 from $535 and curbed the length of time people are eligible. The reason? To pay back more quickly the $2 billion the state owes the federal government for money borrowed to cover benefits following the Bush recession.

But the GOP knew that if the state rules were changed, federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, which might have continued, would be cut off. They didn’t care, and nor were they concerned that tens of millions of dollars would be lost to the state’s economy. Some 70,000 North Carolinians will be hurt.

Republicans say that by cutting benefits, the state will be encouraging the unemployed to find work. That’s insulting, of course, because the vast majority of the jobless have been trying to find employment. The average benefit check of about $300 a week doesn’t exactly provide for a take-it-easy lifestyle. And GOP lawmakers don’t care to consider what happens to people when their benefits are cut off and they are still without work. Homes will be lost. Medicine will go unbought. Kids will go hungry. That’s the reality, as opposed to the rhetoric.”

Uncategorized

So the unemployment cliff is here, the day when the legislation to overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance system takes effect. In a series of blog posts last week, we highlighted what it will mean.  In case you missed it, here is a summary:

NC Budget and Tax Center

The implementation of legislation that was passed early in the session to overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance system will mean a steep fall for families and the economy when it takes effect on June 30th.  That is because not only are these changes to state benefits drastic, some of the benefit changes have meant North Carolina will be the only state where jobless workers won’t be able to access federal emergency unemployment benefits.  Counties across the state will be impacted as the map here shows.  So too will the larger economy, the loss of $600 million in federal unemployment benefits is estimated to result in $1.2 billion less in economic activity. BTC - EUC by County

Uncategorized

Phil BergerAt some point, you’d think the conservative elected officials behind North Carolina’s stingiest-in-the-nation unemployment insurance cuts would at least have the courage and decency to stand up, look straight in the camera and take responsibility for the the pain they are about to inflict on 170,000 jobless workers and their families. And indeed, while they’re at it, they would also do well  to note the impending damage to the state’s economy as a whole as it is forced to do without $600 million in federal dollars and endure an estimated overall decline in economic activity of around $1.2 billion.

Unfortunately, as next Monday’s benefits cut-off deadline  fast approaches, courage and decency are in short supply on Jones Street and spin and blame deflection appear to be the order of the day. Last Friday afternoon, in fact, a paid flak for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger set what might be a new low in this department with a letter to members of the press corps that literally overflows with inaccuracies and downright falsehoods.

Here, in the interest of setting the record straight, is the staffer’s letter interspersed periodically with the actual truth. Our corrections and additions appear in bold italics.

——– Original message ——–
From: “Amy Auth (President Pro Tem’s Office)” <Amy.Auth@ncleg.net>
Date: 06/21/2013 3:39 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: “Amy Auth (President Pro Tem’s Office)” <Amy.Auth@ncleg.net>
Subject: Unemployment Insurance Reforms

Dear Members of the Press Corps: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Despite a superficial improvement in North Carolina’s unemployment rate over the past three months, the state’s jobs picture remains extremely troubling, especially for the 70,000 Tarheel workers likely to lose federal extended unemployment benefits on June 30th. There are just not enough job openings available in order to meaningfully bring down unemployment rate, and as a result, thousands of the state’s workers are simply giving up on the job search and dropping out of the labor force altogether. See the latest issue of Prosperity Watch for details.