Perdue signs order to extend jobless benefits
Posted January 11, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. — For the second time in less than a year, Gov. Beverly Perdue has signed an executive order to extend jobless benefits to North Carolina residents who have been out of work for months.
Some people logging on to the state Division of Employment Security in recent days have been greeted with a notice in red letters, announcing that benefits were anticipated to end on Jan. 28.
Congress in December approved a two-month extension of weekly benefits for people who have been unemployed long enough to have exhausted all regular benefits and additional benefits that the government put in place during the recession.
States set the bar for when extended benefits kick in, so North Carolina needed to change the calculations used to determine when the money could be paid out.
Last spring, a similar situation affecting 47,000 people led to a seven-week standoff between Republican leaders in the General Assembly and Perdue, who termed legislative efforts to link extending benefits to state budget cuts "extortion."
Perdue ended the stalemate by issuing an executive order approving the benefit payouts. The order expired on Dec. 31, however, prompting her to sign a new order so the weekly benefit checks could continue for those who need them.
"In addition to providing desperately needed financial help to the families that actually receive the benefits, these federal dollars will help all North Carolinians because the money will circulate throughout the economy and help support large and small businesses across the state," Perdue said in a statement.
"To be clear, we’re able to achieve these results with no impact on the state budget because all extended benefits resulting from this order will be paid with 100 percent federal money,” she said.
Republican lawmakers said they were ready to return to Raleigh for a special session to address the issue, if needed.
Officials said about 25,000 unemployed people faced losing their benefits if no action was taken.
Terrie Eaton, who has been out of work for more than a year, said she needs the extended benefits to take care of her two children and look for work every day.
"Many of us who are on extended benefits currently, we depend on that. We have families," Eaton said.