Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:50 PM
octoberlib (4,801 posts)
North Carolina’s jobless face a double whammy of aid reductions
An estimated 170,000 jobless workers in North Carolina will be thrown off the unemployment benefit rolls in July, thanks to legislation passed by state lawmakers this week that triggers a little-known provision of federal law.
North Carolina is joining the growing ranks of states that have decided they can no longer shoulder the growing financial burden of the unemployed. But it stands alone in violating a law that disqualifies its jobless from collecting federally funded unemployment benefits, which would allow the state’s jobless to collect up to 47 weeks of additional
The reason is the way North Carolina — which at 9.2 percent has the nation’s fifth-highest jobless rate — went about slashing its benefits.
Not only did the state reduce the maximum number of weeks someone could collect state benefits from 26 to 20, it also reduced the maximum weekly benefit from $535 to $350. On top of that, North Carolina is reworking how unemployment benefits are calculated, which advocates say will reduce the average weekly benefit from about $296 to the low $200s.
“It is a self-inflicted wound,” said George Wentworth, senior staff attorney of the National Employment Law Project.
States are forbidden from cutting jobless benefits if they want to remain eligible for extended federal aid. Congress put the so-called “non-reduction” rule in place in 2009 when it added $25 a week to jobless benefits as part of the stimulus bill. The idea was to ensure the federal help flowed to the unemployed, rather than to state coffers.
During the economic slowdown, at least 35 states have exhausted their unemployment insurance funds and turned to the federal government for loans. With those loans now due, at least eight states have moved to trim benefits — although they did not run afoul of federal law.
Others simply scaled back the number weeks the jobless could collect benefits without reducing maximum weekly aid. Those changes often led to a reduction in the amount of time workers could collect federal help, rather than a total elimination of federal help.
North Carolina officials could have averted the federal reduction by simply delaying benefit changes until Jan. 1, 2014, when the current extension of federal benefits are scheduled to expire.
But officials there — concerned about the mounting red ink in the state’s jobless fund — decided to move more quickly, passing a law that would trim benefits in July. As a result, the state will forfeit as much as $780 million in federal funds, baffling both advocates for the unemployed and federal officials who say the cuts will harm the economy.
4 replies, 660 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
North Carolina’s jobless face a double whammy of aid reductions (Original post)
Response to barbtries (Reply #1)
Fri Feb 15, 2013, 02:08 PM
ProfessionalLeftist (4,982 posts)
4. Damn right. If you get laid off in NC, leave. Seriously.
This is typical penny-wise, pound-foolish Republican psychopathy and ignorance. Damn dumb and mean as hell to boot. They're nuking the state's economy with this shit. I hope the idiot rednecks who voted for these brain-dead morons are happy.