NC hopes to erase unemployment claims backlog soon

Posted March 5, 2014

Division of Employment Security

— The state Division of Employment Security hopes to erase a backlog of initial jobless claims by the end of March, Assistant Commerce Secretary Dale Folwell told lawmakers Wednesday.

Federal standards require states to pay 87 percent of first-time unemployment claims within 21 days. North Carolina has lagged behind that benchmark since the state's overhaul of its unemployment insurance system took effect last July.

Folwell said 83 percent of initial claims are being paid in the required window, and "a flag has been thrown on the field" in the remainder of cases, necessitating further investigation from the agency.

Changes in the unemployment system require that the Division of Employment Security recoup over-payments to unemployed workers who are ineligible for benefits or are trying to game the system, so Folwell's staff has started more intensive reviews of unemployment claims on the front end.

"This agency has been in the mode of paying and chasing for decades." he said. "We owe it to the unemployed people of this state to get it right the first time."

The Division of Employment Security still has 12,800 claims applications in its queue, he said, but the recent spate of winter storms has delayed efforts to clear the backlog. Whenever Wake County public schools are closed, some of his staff have to stay home with children, so productivity drops by about 20 percent, he said.

"We do see a light, with a little help from Mother Nature, at the end of the tunnel," he said.

Still, more work on the front end is yielding results, Folwell said.

A year ago, the first round of appeals for denied claims took 14 to 18 weeks to resolve. That is now down to 21 to 30 days, he said. Subsequent appeals previously were backlogged up to 280 days, and that's now down to 53 days.

Also, a majority of North Carolina unemployment cases now pass an independent federal check for the first time since at least 1997, he said. Federal officials sample 100 cases and match their findings with those of the state, and 54 percent now match up, compared with only 12 percent a year ago.

Folwell said U.S. Department of Labor officials told him they suspect North Carolina's improved scores are the best in the nation, although they haven't officially determined that yet.

"We're trying to do it correctly, not just quickly," he said.


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  • sorcha48 Mar 7, 2014

    Filed November 11th. I have received no payments. All I am told is they are processing it. An employee at ESC said they had brought in more staff, but that was back in January. I feel like they do not care about the fact that this is the only money that a jobless person could have gotten.

  • spalinam Mar 6, 2014

    Husband filed claim Jan 3 still haven't heard any thing just in final stages of processing claim can take another 1 to 9 weeks. Employer responded Jan 24 but they can't even tell us if he is even gonna get approved for unemployment until claim is finalized. How are we supposed to cover the mortgage on my income alone? Thank god I have no car payments. At this point just hurry up and make up your minds. No one is hiring older people if you are over 50 I guess you are just out of luck.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 5, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Been there, done that!!!

    Praying for you.

    Contact your congressional members. Do it NOW!!!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 5, 2014

    View quoted thread


    It is that sentiment that put people in harm's way last snowstorm, driving when road conditions weren't good enough for them to be on the roadways, stranding thousands of them along the roads.

    These storms don't come along so often that they should hamper work this much. It's just the excuse the leaders there are pinning it on this time. If they were this far behind in August, then they'd have to search for another excuse. But don't blame workers who wisely stay off roadways that are unsafe for them to drive on to begin with.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 5, 2014

    So fire the people that do not show up for work and get people that will show up. If someone has kids, that is their issue to deal with not the employer. As to repubs not caring, I very much want them to be as SURE as they can be that a given person applying for unemployment is ACTUALLY entitled to collect. For some bizarre reason people equate government as if they are a charity. They are not. Money is taken by FORCE, including the unemployment insurance that the employers must pay. It is in the BEST interests of ALL of us to make sure only those that should get unemployment are the ones getting it. That is actually CARING about the people.

  • Marciana Paul Mar 5, 2014
    user avatar

    This makes no sense, NC republican do not care about anyone... they hold up unemployment for those who has no income, but they expedite pay raises for themselves...smdh ""This agency has been in the mode of paying and chasing for decades." he said. "We owe it to the unemployed people of this state to get it right the first time." YA THINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nicole Collins Mar 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Filed a month ago and still haven't seen a penny and your job is supposed to respond in 14 days. If they don't respond it is approved. Well the job responded 24 days later and that was 2/24. Still nothing processed.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 5, 2014

    "Folwell said 80 percent of undisputed initial claims are being paid in the required window, but he didn't disclose the number of cases where "a flag has been thrown on the field," necessitating further investigation from the agency."

    All they have to do to get beyond the 21 day Federal requirement then is "throw a flag" for a real (or imaginary) question?

    Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. How long before the Feds are watching NC for this too.


    What shame some of our government agencies are bringing on this state for messes like this!?!