Local News

Computer upgrade to delay extra jobless benefits

Posted November 20, 2009

Growing numbers of N.C. residents are searching for work and collecting unemployment benefits at Employment Security Commission offices.

— The state's unemployment picture darkened slightly Friday as the jobless rate for October went back to a seasonally adjusted 11 percent, a bit higher than it was in September and where it had been in June, according to the state Employment Security Commission.

The rate in both August and September was 10.8 percent.

Two weeks ago, the federal government reported that the national unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent in October, the highest national number since 1983.

N.C. unemployment rate up to 11 percent

Because North Carolina's jobless rate is one of the highest nationwide, state residents who have exhausted their unemployment benefits are eligible to receive an extra 20 weeks of benefits under legislation Congress passed and President Obama signed two weeks ago.

About 71,000 North Carolinians are eligible for the extended benefits, according to ESC.

"Without the benefits, I wouldn't have been able to survive," said Will Schnorr, who lost his construction job 14 months ago. "My wife works part time. I've got three kids, and me and my wife just had a baby."

Unfortunately, ESC Chairman Moses Carey Jr. said, state residents who qualify for the extra benefits won't be able to get them until the end of the year. Workers need about six weeks to update ESC computer files to recognize the new benefits guidelines, he said.

"We're still working to get the benefits in people's hands as soon as possible," Carey said. "We have to program our computers to make sure that we get it right, so we don't cause big problems for the state of North Carolina."

He urged people who are receiving unemployment benefits to continue checking online to see if new benefits checks have been issued.

"We are trying to make sure that they have access to resources as soon as they are eligible, and the only way they can determine that is to check the system," he said.

More people employed in October

In one bit of bright news, non-farm employment in North Carolina grew by 12,100 jobs in October compared with the month before. The total was still 185,800 fewer than in October 2008. That included a loss of almost 6,600 construction jobs since September.

Still, seasonally adjusted employment in North Carolina last month decreased by 5,643 workers, to 4,035,471. Unemployment increased by 4,537 workers, to 496,279.

Without the seasonal adjustment last month, the ESC said, the unemployment rate would have been 10.7 percent.

"The numbers have been pretty steady since February," Carey said. "We’ve had ups and downs concerning the number of people employed and unemployed, but we haven’t experienced any significant changes."

North Carolina has lost almost 228,000 jobs in the last year. The statewide unemployment rate was 7 percent a year ago.

"It's a really difficult time right now. There are roughly six people looking for every job that is available," said Elaine Mejia, project director for the NC Budget & Tax Center, a progressive policy organization.

According to ESC data, North Carolina has suffered a net loss of non-farm jobs in every primary category it tracks other than government and education/health services over the past year.

By category for 2009, through last month, the changes were:

  •  Total non-farm: -185,800
  •  Natural resources and mining: -200
  •  Construction: -44,200
  •  Manufacturing: -64,400
  •  Trade, transportation and utilities: -40,000
  •  Information: -3,900
  •  Financial activities: -9,300
  •  Professional and business services: -31,600
  •  Education and health services: +6,100
  •  Leisure and hospitality: -5,800
  •  Other services: -9,400
  •  Government: +16,900

The jobless rate does not include people who aren't working and have either given up seeking employment or moved elsewhere.

105 Comments

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  • Da Toy Maker Nov 20, 6:24 p.m.

    strawberrysw4:

    Don't you think it is pointless to argue with people about live within our mean? It is not in our culture so the few who do unfortunately will pay for those who don't one way or another.

  • Da Toy Maker Nov 20, 6:14 p.m.

    foetine:

    If you lost your 6 figure salary job and can't find one comparable, what choice do you have? You could sit there and play the blame game and hoping things will get better soon.

    Or you will just have to pull your kids out of the private school, sell your expensive house/cars. Take a much, much lower paying job. You deal with the situation. It is called live within your mean! We bought a house for less than $200K when we were talked by the bank that we were pre-approved for $450k loan. We paid off our house earlier than the original 15 year loan term. The "new vehicle" we bought this year a a low milage 2003 Acura. The one before that we bought three years ago was a 2002 Chevy.

    It is great to have a dream and achieving it. It is important to keep one's dream alive. Personally, I agreed with the saying "When you are given a lemon, you make lemonade" (Can't remember the exact saying). You adapted and live.

  • computer trainer Nov 20, 5:35 p.m.

    4family, while it is difficult to uproot your children, military families do it DAILY. My children lived their growing up years in the military and they re wonderful. They are smart, hold wonderful jobs, are well adjusted, kind and great men. Your children will be fine, if you are there to support and love them. I have to tell you that I hated that my children were not around "some" of the family much, but they were better NOT being around some. My children are our best friends.

  • Mean Old Mom Nov 20, 5:05 p.m.

    I agree with Toymaker

    ...And ~11% of the comments in this blog are about hope and change. I would say that is a decrease in the "hope and change" comment rate from preious blog postings. At least something is going down.

  • DIVERDOWN Nov 20, 4:54 p.m.

    i am so sick of the immature children who only can use the lib talking points to get their piont across. ok so you were scammed into electing a fruad,thats ok it happens but learn to admit when you made a mistake and dont worry we'll correct it starting next year

  • foetine Nov 20, 4:33 p.m.

    have you gone car shopping? A $10K used car already has 75K miles on it and no warr. You are better off buying a new $20K for a lower interest rate with a multi-year warr, going cheap will cost you more in modern America

  • dogeatdog Nov 20, 4:31 p.m.

    Not shocked to see government jobs increased...so folks, how's that hope and change workin' out for you?

  • Bill Brasky Nov 20, 4:31 p.m.

    "I've been so busy the last couple of days haven't been reading news much. What's up with Geitner? Is he on his way out?"

    He's enrolled in a math class at a local tech school. We're waiting for the end of semester report now.

    Speaking of community college....what Walmart is Sarah Palin at today?

  • foetine Nov 20, 4:29 p.m.

    you think you can afford your house if you're out of a job in your former pay range for a year? and you think you can sell it without taking a hit or just having it sit on the market as unwanted as your skills set?

    delivering pizzas is not an option. that won't cover your daycare bill.

  • GWALLY Nov 20, 4:22 p.m.

    ...."I've been so busy the last couple of days haven't been reading news much. What's up with Geitner? Is he on his way out?...."

    He is teaching Turbo Tax for dummies...Charlie Rangle is sitting on the front row!!!

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