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As Senate leaves on recess, Cooper labels failure of Trump, Congress to reach agreement on unemployment ‘unconscionable’

“We need to get unemployment compensation to the people who need it, people who are hanging by a thread, who need to put food on the table and need to pay the rent.”

Governor Roy Cooper sounded frustrated Thursday that Congress and President Trump remained in a stalemate over how to roll out the next coronavirus relief package and an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits.

Cooper explained Trump’s executive order provides for a $300 weekly boost in federal unemployment insurance, but it also requires states provide a $100 weekly match, which would come from the North Carolina Unemployment Trust Fund.

Setting all this up could take weeks, something jobless individuals can ill afford.

“One thing I have said to our members of Congress and U.S. Senators – don’t create more programs here. Already this is difficult enough for states to administer because of the overwhelming number of people who lost their jobs. Fund the programs that we have already set up,” said Gov. Cooper during his weekly update on COVID-19.

A closer look at NC unemployment claims filed over the past week. (Source: NCDES)

Since mid-March more than 1.2 million North Carolinians have applied for state unemployment insurance benefits. Twenty-five percent of those claimants (305, 145) were deemed not eligible for any benefits.

(Reasons for a claim being rejected can include an insufficient wage history or failure to file a weekly certification.)

Cooper also stressed the need for the legislature to revisit state jobless benefits.

“Most people are running out of their payments after 12 weeks. The cap of $350 per week in North Carolina needs to be raised. The state legislature needs to take action.”

As for Congress, members have adjourned for the remainder of August and are unlikely to return to the debate over enhanced unemployment benefits until after Labor Day.

On Thursday the U.S. Labor Department announced 963,000 people filed for unemployment last week, a slight decrease from the previous week.

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As Senate leaves on recess, Cooper labels failure of Trump, Congress to reach agreement on unemployment ‘unconscionable’