NC lawmakers leery of accepting extended jobless money

Posted January 8, 2014

— A day after the U.S. Senate began debating a three-month extension to benefits for people who have been unemployed for months, North Carolina lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss the emergency benefits.

Members of the Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee expressed skepticism about accepting the added benefits, saying they feared it would encourage people to remain on the unemployment rolls looking for better opportunities instead of taking jobs.

"A lot of folks will say, 'Well, I'm in no rush. I can go ahead because I know I've got additional benefits to try find something,'" said Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg.

State law requires job-seekers to take any job that pays more than unemployment after 10 weeks. Still, Rucho remains skeptical.

"There are folks who can take advantage of the system," he said.

Lawmakers last year overhauled the state's unemployment system, cutting the maximum weekly benefit and the number of weeks people could receive benefits, to help pay off $2.5 billion owed to the federal government for benefits paid to out-of-work North Carolinians during the recession.

The changes ended long-term federal unemployment benefits for thousands of people statewide last July, but the Senate bill would allow the long-term benefits to resume in North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory hasn't decided whether to accept the extended benefits, which wouldn't have to be repaid to the government. A spokesman said McCrory is waiting to see if the Senate bill makes it through Congress before acting on it.

The state's unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in November, down from 9.4 percent a year earlier, but the labor force has also shrunk during that time. Nearly 90,000 fewer North Carolinians are working or seeking work, even though the state's population is growing. Those people don't factor into the unemployment rate.

Rep. Paul Tine, D-Dare, said many of his constituents are hurting financially, but jobs aren't there to help them. He said he's not convinced, however, that a federal benefits extension is the answer.

"Unemployment benefits are temporary benefits meant to help get people from losing a job to their next job," Tine said. "So, we've got to make sure we're not turning this into a long-term benefit and creating economic problems down the road."

Doug Holmes, president of UWC, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm that represents business interests on unemployment insurance and workers compensation issues, told the oversight committee that, if the Senate bill makes it through Congress, North Carolinians potentially could be eligible for an extra 37 weeks of benefits, although the bill funds only the first 12. The White House is expected to push for a longer-term extension in the next few weeks, he said.

The extension also would require the state to ramp up its apparatus for distributing federal benefits, including communicating with jobless recipients and determining their eligibility, Holmes said.


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  • dbutler14 Jan 11, 2014

    No good excuses

  • tinapulliam39 Jan 10, 2014

    Pat McCoy, we need help!!!!!!!

  • dollibug Jan 10, 2014

    It is quite sad that anyone would think that the majority of people who have lost their jobs really *LIKE* being unemployed. I am not able to work and I HATE this as well. I was *cheated out of disability benefits and worker's comp benefits* thanks to our *system* and to corrupt attorneys. Yes, there is corruption and cover up in a lot of places. I just read this week in a YES magazine that Medicaid was being covered by federal funds and yet our governor has REFUSED this. Something is very WRONG with leadership here. There are many issues which need to be addressed. Many changes could be made for the good of NC.

  • Jeepgirl03 Jan 9, 2014

    I've been laid off 7 times in 15 years and you want to make a general statement that I have taken unemployment benefits and am abusing the system. Glad we have law makers who are looking out for their citizens instead of thinking the worst of them. Why should I have to settle for a job making say $15k a year when I'm used to making $50k a year in a professional job. It's cheaper for me to not have to pay outrageous gas prices and wear and tear on my 11 year old vehicle (because I can't afford to buy a new one) and stay home and on unemployment until the right job for me comes along. I have even tried to get a job as a receptionist to get my foot in the door at some companies and have been told time and time again that I am over qualified, but because I don't have a college degree (because I couldn't afford college and worked my butt off to move my way up from a receptionist) I can't even get an interview for what I have been doing for 20 years.

  • GOPtakersSociety Jan 9, 2014

    computer trainer Jan 9, 11:34 a.m.

    While the state "may" not have to repay it ( TILl this is completely passed that could be changed), someone is going to have to pay for it. Like the trillions that our grandchildren, Great Grands, and Great, Great Grands are going to be paying for. They are going to HATE us for what we are leaving them.

    while that may be so, they would have to pay eventually for "Progress" while it would be "Nice" to pass on a debt free society, it's not the real world......

  • Toda Jan 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Obviously you haven't been unemployed as a result of downsizing, or business closures. There may be jobs listed on internet sites and probably 1000 people are applying for that one position....

  • bechdel13 Jan 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    That couldn't possibly be due to the long-term unemployed dropping out of the workforce. Nope!

  • arfamr1009 Jan 9, 2014

    NO MORE EXTENDED BENEFITS!!! Isn't it a miracle how the reduction in benefits has lead to a 2% drop in the UE rate in less than a year?

  • computer trainer Jan 9, 2014

    While the state "may" not have to repay it ( TILl this is completely passed that could be changed), someone is going to have to pay for it. Like the trillions that our grandchildren, Great Grands, and Great, Great Grands are going to be paying for. They are going to HATE us for what we are leaving them.

  • Mom120 Jan 9, 2014

    they need to try to live on my income