Improving economy may hurt long-term unemployed

Up to 18,000 people who have been collecting extended benefits could lose them in the coming weeks as North Carolina's unemployment rate drops and other factors show economic improvement.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A combination of improving economic statistics may conspire to end unemployment benefits for some North Carolinians who have been out of work the longest, the state Division of Employment Security determined Tuesday.

Up to 18,000 people who have been collecting extended benefits could lose them in the coming weeks, DES spokesman Larry Parker said.

A law passed in 2009 allowed for six weeks of benefits beyond the standard in states where the unemployment rate is at or above 8.5 percent. The most recent data, from February, showed most counties in North Carolina still posted numbers about that threshold, but Wake, Orange and Durham counties had slipped below that mark.

In the past few months, the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, have attempted to find a way to continue the extended the benefits.

At one point last year, nearly 50,000 people were receiving the benefits. In January, the governor signed an executive order that kept the money flowing to North Carolina.

Parker says, under the current Department of Labor formula, there is no political solution.

DES: Data may have leaked

The Division of Employment Security also notified about 7,000 check recipients Tuesday that their personal information was exposed in a software error. Letters sent to verify unemployment applicants, which list names and social security numbers, were sent to incorrect addresses, opening up the possibility that information could be compromised, Parker said.

The software glitch happened between March 21 and April 10 and has been remedied. Parker said individuals at risk would be notified. 


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