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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

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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.

NC Budget and Tax Center

As June 30 approaches so too does the unemployment cliff.  For nearly a month, the Tarheel Workers campaign has been highlighting the impending implementation of House Bill 4 that dismantled the unemployment insurance system and will result in the loss of federal emergency unemployment compensation.  Immediately, an estimated 70,000 jobless workers in the state will lose access to the federal program as a result of state policymaker’s rush to implement the drastic cuts to state unemployment insurance benefits.1week

Far more will be impacted though including future unemployed workers, businesses and the broader economy. The focus has rightly been on the unnecessary and significant loss of federal emergency unemployment compensation in North Carolina.  But in the days ahead of the implementation of the most drastic changes to a state unemployment insurance system in the nation, we aim to highlight what this new, deformed system will mean for our communities and families.

  • North Carolina will no longer have an unemployment insurance system in the middle of the pack but will fall to the bottom of all states.
  • North Carolina will reduce the maximum benefit amount by  approximately 34 percent.
  • North Carolina will restrict eligibility by eliminating access to unemployment insurance for workers who quit for a range of family or health reasons.
  • North Carolina will not implement forward financing, and instead reduce the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system to protect the economy in downturns.
  • North Carolina will not see job creation as a result of its changes to unemployment insurance system and could, in fact, see economic challenges.

Stay tuned for more.

 

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Moral MondaysWhy I’m being arrested
By Carol Teal, citizen

This is not a decision I made lightly but in the end it’s one I made without hesitation.  Before getting to the essence of why, I had to attend to some practical matters. Did I have the support of my family? – yes. Would it affect my job? – no.  Could I post bail? – yes. 

It’s easier for me to do this than most people. I’m almost 60 years old, nearing the end of my career. I won’t lose my job. This is not a brave thing for me to do – just a necessary thing. 

Why is it necessary? Will this likely have an impact on the legislators making the decisions that I think are so harmful – probably not. Shouldn’t I honor the process of the last election that put all these people in office – absolutely. I do.

The real reason I’m doing this is I need to be a citizen today – in the most profound way possible. And I need to honor Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Jesus and do it in a serious nonviolent way.

What are the decisions this General Assembly has made that I find so troubling that I am willing to stand in front of the chamber doors blocking their way?

There are too many to enumerate here.  For now, I want to just share a few that are personal to me. Read More