Local News

Relief coming to some of N.C.'s unemployed

Posted December 30, 2009 6:14 p.m. EST

— The state Employment Security Commission said Wednesday it is ready to pay out additional unemployment insurance benefits to approximately 78,000 North Carolinians.

Last month, President Barack Obama signed a $24 billion economic stimulus package that extends unemployment in the state for up to 20 weeks.

"We've paid out more than $4.6 billion in benefits to more than 500,000 people," ESC Deputy Chairman David Clegg said. "We are now prepared to roll out the third extension."

Since November, thousands of unemployed North Carolinians, like Bill Dolton, have been waiting to find out if they qualify for the latest benefits extension.

"It's been very depressing," Dolton, of Willow Spring, said. "It seems like it's lagged forever. It's been almost like a nightmare really."

Having received some form of unemployment benefits for 23 months, Dolton said they ran out last week.

"Without any money, it makes it impossible to survive," he said.

The ESC says about 34,000 people will receive letters notifying them about the extension. Others will automatically receive unemployment benefits on a debit card, if they qualify.

The extension could push the maximum a person in a high-unemployment state, such as North Carolina, could receive to 99 weeks, the most in history. Unemployment checks generally are for about $300 a week.

In North Carolina, 8,131 people exhausted their unemployment benefits from late August to late October, according to ESC statistics. Without the most recent extension, approximately 13,000 more people would have run out of benefits in the next two months.