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State Lawmakers Consider Changing Unemployment Benefits

State lawmakers in the House plan to take up a bill this evening that would reduce unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.  House Bill 4 is expected to reach the floor for lawmakers to consider tonight. The measure would speed up repayment of North Carolina’s 2.57 billion dollar debt to the federal government. The state borrowed that money to help pay unemployment benefits to a rapidly growing number of people who lost their jobs during the recession.

Employers who pay into the fund have seen their federal unemployment taxes rise by 21 dollars per employee per year. But the cost-cutting measures in the bill would also reduce recipients’ maximum weekly unemployment benefit from 535 dollars to 350 dollars per week. Advocates for the unemployed say that will make it even harder for those who're struggling to pay their bills and keep their homes. The measure would also stop extended benefits for those who’ve been without jobs for more than 26 weeks. Governor Pat McCrory has said he favors the measure.
 

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.
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