Day 40: Number of unemployed without benefits goes up, again

The number of people being affected by a standoff in the state legislature over unemployment benefits has ticked upwards again, now at 43,000 and 46,000 people.

The new estimate was released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission. Today marks the 40th day since April 16, when the benefits stopped for an estimated 37,000 people.

The ESC believes an additional 2,100 people each week are exhausting their existing benefits, and would have moved into the extended benefits if the legislature had approved the formula that lets federal funds flow through to workers.

This week’s estimate shows a slightly slower growth of pace for the affected.

A new bill was introduced as a compromise by Republicans yesterday that agreed to restore the federally-funded unemployment benefits for thousands if Gov. Bev Perdue would agree to a temporary budget with deep cuts. (For a recap on yesterday’s bill, check out this story from WRAL.) Perdue vetoed a similar bill, and indicated yesterday she’d veto this one too and urged GOP leaders in the legislature to send her a clean bill.

The only other hopes for restoring benefits are if enough Republicans join Democrats in the state legislature to pass a stand-alone bill, or if a new state budget is passed that would also restore the benefits on July 1.

Here’s the full text of Perdue’s written statement released last night:

For weeks, 42,000 unemployed North Carolinians have waited for the legislature to show leadership by passing legislation that will restore their federal unemployment benefits.  Instead the legislature has refused to do the right thing and played politics by passing a bill that ties unemployment benefits to the legislature’s budget games.  And here they go again by introducing HB 439 that would tie unemployment benefits to a budget bill that would cut public education by more than $1 billion.  If this bill were to become law in its current form, thousands of teachers, teaching assistants and students would be held hostage by the legislature’s political games.  On behalf of the 42,000 unemployed North Carolinians who have been denied benefits, I call on the General Assembly to act and pass a bill that solely addresses these federally funded unemployment benefits.

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