Lawmakers pledge to boost NC unemployment checks by $50 a week

Posted August 28, 2020 2:27 p.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2020 2:55 p.m. EDT

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— Legislative leaders in the House and the Senate said Friday that they back plans for an across-the-board increase of $50 a week in unemployment benefits in North Carolina.

Lawmakers return to Raleigh next Wednesday for a brief session in which they expect to dole out more of the pandemic relief money the federal government sent to the state several months ago through the CARES Act.

North Carolina has some of the lowest jobless benefits in the nation, capping the maximum benefit at $350 a week for up to 12 weeks.

Gov. Roy Cooper this week called on lawmakers to raise the maximum to $500 and extend benefits to 24 weeks.

Republican lawmakers said that, rather than simply raising the top-end benefit, they would put an extra $50 into everyone's weekly unemployment check.

"With a high unemployment rate, it's not easy for someone who loses a job to go out and quickly find another one. Recognizing that reality, Republicans in the House and Senate support boosting assistance for every unemployment insurance recipient by more than $200 per month," Sens Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, and Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, said in a joint statement.

Newton chairs the Senate Finance committee, while Edwards is co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance.

The lawmakers didn't say how long the $50 increase will last.

A $600-a-week unemployment boost that was funded by the federal government ran out in late July. President Donald Trump announced a $300 increase, funded out of a federal disaster account, when Congress failed to strike a bargain on extending at least some of that boost.

But the government has approved only enough money out of that disaster account to cover three weeks of payments.

Cooper said he expects North Carolinians on unemployment will start seeing the $300 federal boost in their checks next week.

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