Standoff over jobless benefits keeps 37,000 in limbo

Posted May 15, 2011
Updated May 16, 2011

— A battle raging in the state legislature is more than a game of politics for a Garner woman, one of 37,000 unemployed people in the state whose jobless benefits were cut short last month.

It's her livelihood.

When Joyce Fowler lost her job as a manufacturing specialist two years ago, she wasn't surprised; she said she knew the economy was in trouble and that layoffs at her company were imminent. 

But she was blindsided by the news that she would no longer receive unemployment benefits.

"It was a big blow," Fowler said. "I actually did not think it was going to be as bad as it is."

In April, Republican leaders in the General Assembly passed a bill to keep federal funds flowing to those who have been unemployed for up to 99 weeks.

Gov. Bev Perdue, however, vetoed the measure because it contained the stipulation that if the state budget is not in place by June 30, Republicans would go forward with slashing her proposed budget by 13 percent.

Perdue called the bill "extortion."

"These are real people. You can't do this. It just makes me sick for North Carolina," she said.

joyce fowler Garner woman in limbo after jobless benefits cut

After she lost her job, Fowler went back to school in the hopes of furthering her career and finding a better paying job. Now, she's working part-time, taking in other family members to help split housing expenses and living "meagerly" to make ends meet, she said.

"Until they have walked in the shoes which we have walked and faced the things we have faced, they don't know what it's like," Fowler said.

She said she hopes the political standoff ends soon.

"A lot of these people do not have a year. A lot of these people do not have a month... to wait on that," she said. "If they're going to do anything, it needs to be done immediately."

Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said extending jobless benefits and getting an approved state budget in place are both top priorities for Republican lawmakers.

Ultimately, he said, the goal is to improve North Carolina's business environment so that those without work can ultimately find a job.


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  • SARCASTICLES May 17, 2011

    Well, look on the bright side! At least our "representatives" are keeping us safe from the evils of early voting, and other "pressing issues". ;)

  • dlphnwmn8 May 16, 2011

    A friend with family had his electriciyy cut off the Thursday before Mother's Day. Can you imagine what kind of weekend they had?? And now facing eviction May 31 if UI not reinstated. Also check out this article: unemployment benefits stalemate splits jobless family - http://ow.ly/4S7nY - #ncga #ncpol. Our elected offiicials know each day they will eat three meals, have water to drink and to bathe, be warm on chilly nights and cool on warm days, be able to afford gas, to buy meds, have insurance when ill, their mortgage will be paid on tiime and their lights will shine when needed in the dark of night. They know when payday is as they work for us and we pay them. Shouldn't they start working FOR us and not AGAINST us?

  • dgods8 May 16, 2011

    I am wondering if people on this post have ever considered the age group of people unemployed that are saying hey we are qualified in one type of job and those are the hardest to get no one wants to leave those jobs. Be real overqualified is a reality in the job market people...

  • PDMARTIN May 16, 2011


    I feel your pain. I will have to abandon my house and everything in it at the end of this month because I can't find work either. I will have to move in with my parents, which at my age is a hard thing to swallow. My sister suggested I try to get on welfare, but single people can't get a dime's worth of help cause we don't have a car load of kids or have a disability. Those extra few weeks would have given me "some" breathing room but as it stands now everything I own will have to be left by the wayside.

  • iluvjunk May 16, 2011

    I am one of the people affected by the loss of UI benefits. I submit applications and resumes everyday and the only response I get is I'm over qualified or the position was filled by another applicant. I am in the 50 plus age group and have worked all my life. I have NEVER relied on any program to support me and my family. For those of us that want to work there are at least 50 applicants for each job posted. It is almost impossible to even get an interview. I have drained my savings trying to keep my head above water. I was paying my bills today and did not have enough money to pay my mortgage. I paid my power, phone, and water bill. I guess I will have to do without food for the rest of the month. Maybe my mortgage company will work with me since I have NEVER been late making a payment. I pray everyday some company will hire me. I don't know what to do other than pray.

  • dgods8 May 16, 2011

    funny how there were 121 comments here 5 min ago and now there are 118, i read somewhere that the NC republicans are waiting to see if a bill passes that says they can use the extended benefits monies to pay back the federal govt defecit if they do not change the formula to extend benefits? is this true?

  • dlphnwmn8 May 16, 2011

    Mt Airy News: Berger's correct... education, not mass employment, should be goal of every NC school system http://bit.ly/jWZ3dM #ncga #ncpol

    Funny how Bergers Office doesn't mention the Charlotte Observer, Asheville Times, News & Observer, Independent, and all the others that state how UI IS important.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman May 16, 2011

    Amazing how many of my informative comments didn't get posted here, with no email explanation for why from WRAL.

    Not a way to run a railroad.

  • lawncare5 May 16, 2011

    Everyone has a different situation. I am grateful to still have a job in health care. Used to be able to walk out of one nursing job and quickly get another. Not anymore. So I have done my best to save, become very frugal, and plan on doing whatever work I can do if I become unemployed. (Yes, I am over fifty)./ As a country we have all got ourselves into this mess by overspending, credit cards, etc (myself included) so now I guess our chickens have come home to roost. We need to do our best to help one another. I fully believe America can become great once again.

  • Mark Hayes May 16, 2011

    Politicians will now and continue to say that it is somene else causing the problem that they are doing the best for their people,serve their time to whatever office they hold flounder around get paid and when that gig is over move on,it seems there is no head to this snake,unless we stick together as a force that they cannot hide from this will be how it will remain on any issues,it is they who put us at odds with one another by using party politics over what should be a joint effort of all to tackle domestic problems and not the rest of the worlds,I would like to see a poll taken on how many here in the US really think we should be micro managing the affairs of the countries we are in while ours is headed towards the same situation if not turned around,billions spent on unrewarding wars,aid to those that have no love loss for us,programs draining our recources and much of these things are being done without any thought going into what impact they have on us not being asked but being