Unemployment

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

As restaurants, salons and pools reopen (partially) in North Carolina over the Memorial Day weekend, there are varying levels of worry about the coronavirus. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation chat about the loosening of public health restrictions, more record-setting unemployment numbers, and the news that there will be no criminal charges against the chemical manufacturer Chemours for contamination in the Cape Fear River. 


A tattoo and piercing shop on Hillsborough Street is closed during the coronavirus pandemic in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

North Carolina's unemployment rate ballooned to just over 12% in April as the state dealt with a coronavirus-related economic slowdown, state officials said Friday.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

This week in state politics, lawmakers returned to the North Carolina General Assembly to deliberate how much of the available federal aid should be dolled out immediately.  

Meanwhile, another wave of unemployment claims rolled in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

And a giant of the state Legislature died. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch discuss balancing economic health and public health, and the legacy of the dry-witted former Sen. Tony Rand. 


Artist Shana Tucker looks out her apartment window.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

 

Red-tipped hair swept to the side, Shana Tucker bites her lower lip before looking back at the camera. 

“I learned today that someone that I grew up with is fighting for her life as a result of COVID-19,” she says through tears. “That's the first time that it sat me down and took my breath away.”

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

Unemployment claims surpassed half a million, and various industries across North Carolina asked for help this week.

The coronavirus outbreak took dozens more North Carolinians and led to a hot spot in Orange County. In their usual review of the week's political news, Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch, and Becki Gray, from the John Locke Foundation, address some recent pushback to the stay-at-home order, and share how they will celebrate the holiday weekend.


Chuck Liddy / For WUNC

North Carolina’s unemployment filings since March 16 hover just over 470,000, and about 87% of those claims are related to COVID-19. This amounts to years worth of claims that need to be processed in only a matter of weeks. 

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

North Carolina is rounding out its first week under a statewide stay-at-home order. 

Two years' worth of unemployment applications have suffocated the state agency charged with handling them. 

And the coronavirus pandemic has now reached into the state's nursing homes, prisons, and even the legislative building. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss what's transpired, what lawmakers should do to prepare for the inevitable budget shortfalls, and the conundrum of political fundraising during a crisis. 
 


RecruitMilitary

Kathryn Kuziel sees light at the end of the tunnel. With her husband Alex Kuziel getting out of the 82nd Airborne soon, she’s finally be able to look for a job as an IT project manager without worrying that potential employers will pass her over for someone with more staying power.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

U.S. employers added a better-than-expected 263,000 jobs in April, as the nearly decade-old economic expansion shows no signs of slowing. And the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% — the lowest in nearly 50 years.

In March, the jobless rate was 3.8%. A monthly snapshot from the Labor Department showed solid hiring in services, construction and health care.

Photo: 10 people were arrested outside the offices of North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger.
Jorge Valencia

Police officers arrested 10 protesters at the North Carolina General Assembly on Friday, as the protesters chanted and called on Republican lawmakers to put a referendum on a statewide ballot to raise the minimum wage.

Officers handcuffed the protesters outside the office of Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) after they refused to leave the building past its posted 5 p.m. closing time. 

Officers took protesters to the Wake County Detention Center and charged them with second degree trespassing, said police Chief Jeff Weaver.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

State officials have paid down $2.8 billion owed to the federal government. The debt came from money used to pay unemployment benefits during the recession.

That debt climbed to $2.8 billion in early 2013. Months later, lawmakers then passed controversial House Bill 4, which did the following:

Orange County is North Carolina's Healthiest County according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. The study evaluates every county in America based on factors like premature death, child poverty and crime. The report listed Wake County as the state's second healthiest.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

The North Carolina Senate has approved a proposal that would change a panel that hears appeals for unemployment insurance, but Governor Pat McCrory vetoed a similar bill last year.

The plan would shorten the amount of time board members serve on the panel and stagger the terms between each member. It would also require people getting unemployment benefits to contact five instead of three potential employers every week.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Fort Bragg is hosting a Transition Summit today and tomorrow to help out-going soldiers find jobs outside the military.

The federal unemployment rate for veterans is about six percent.  That's according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' July numbers.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

    

North Carolina lawmakers voted last year to end long-term unemployment benefits.

The move meant the state stopped accepting money from the federal government for workers who had been out of a job for 20 weeks or more. Legislators said they made the change in order to start paying down more than $2 billion in jobless benefits the state already owed to the federal government.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

State lawmakers wrapped up a busy week today before the July Fourth holiday.

This week, lawmakers finally broke the logjam in budget negotiations, with an unusual open conference committee meeting in which House and Senate legislators came to an agreement on Medicaid shortfall numbers.

In the meantime, lawmakers pushed through other measures, including one House bill earlier in the week that would study removing law enforcement officers' personal information from online records.

Protesters gathered outside the Senate chamber to demonstrate against policies they say are regressive.

Nineteen Moral Monday protesters were arrested yesterday after demonstrating in the legislative building against budget proposals and policies passed by Republican-led General Assembly.

Dozens of protesters stomped, danced, and chanted at the very tops of their lungs, days after a superior court judge struck down new rules that prohibit loud activities and noises that would cause disturbances. The Wake County judge on Friday argued that the rules were unconstitutional, overly broad and vague.

Photo: North Carolina's Old Capitol building
Jorge Valencia

The House of Representatives has been busy working on a budget plan for the state and other large pieces of legislation. Here's a summary of the days news from the State Capitol:

The centerpiece of the spending plan lawmakers are adjusting is pay for public school teachers. A five percent raise is what House Speaker Thom Tillis and his colleagues are suggesting.

That’s almost the mid-point between the two existing budget outlines. The governor has suggested a two-percent raise, and the senate an 11-percent raise.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest figures on the state’s unemployed. But do these numbers paint an accurate picture of the jobs economy in North Carolina?

Host Frank Stasio talks to Triangle Business Journal Reporter Jason deBruyn about the latest statistics and the ways to count the unemployed. His recent coverage includes:

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, flanked by state Rep. Rosa Gill (D-Wake) and state Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake)
Jorge Valencia

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said on Monday that she’s pushing to make long-term unemployed people in North Carolina eligible again for federal emergency unemployment benefits.

Hagan, a Democrat, introduced a provision for a possible extension of nationwide unemployment benefits that would make North Carolina eligible again, she said. The state was disqualified from Emergency Unemployment Compensation last year after the Republican-led General Assembly reduced benefits at the state level.

NC Policy Watch
NC Policy Watch

The state’s jobless rate in August 2013 is the lowest it’s been in the past year.  But there is still a big loss in payroll jobs.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 8.7%, down 0.2 of a percentage point from July and nearly a full point down from this time last year.  The national jobless rate is 7.3%.

North Carolina House lawmakers have tentatively passed a bill largely along party lines that would lower benefits for unemployed workers. The measure would reduce the maximum weekly allowed benefit from $500 to $350. It would also reduce the maximum amount of time a laid-off worker could receive benefits from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks. Democratic Representative Paul Luebke said this is the wrong bill to be passing at a time when unemployment in the state is high.

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.

  The General Assembly is expected to consider legislation this week that will reform the federal unemployment insurance program. Republican leaders say the changes will help pay back a growing debt the state owes the federal government.

Advocates for workers say they are unnecessary and will push thousands of residents over a financial cliff. News and Observer reporter Mandy Locke joins Frank Stasio to discuss the changes and how it may affect tens of thousands of North Carolina residents.

North Carolina’s metropolitan areas show some positive momentum in the jobs front. But three areas in the state lag behind the rest.

Almost 100-percent of the job growth in North Carolina since the end of the recession in 2009 has occurred in the state’s metropolitan areas.   And Allan Fryer, a policy analyst with the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center says 90-percent of the job growth has occurred in only three metro areas – Raleigh, Charlotte and Durham.

Many people could end up paying more with the latest draft proposal to overhaul the state’s unemployment system and re-pay the federal government. 

Tessie Bethel is a laid off custodian.   Her unemployment runs out before Christmas.  She gets 179-dollars a week.

Tessie Bethel:  "I had to pay 85-dollars for an eye exam yesterday.  It’s gone. I only have 40-dollars left for up until next Tuesday again. It  doesn’t last."

A nnational report shows the number of working teenagers and young adults is at its lowest point in 50 years. 

A manufacturing plant in High Point will close by the end of next year and more than 600 people could lose their jobs.

The state Commerce Department says North Carolina's unemployment rate has risen slightly.  The state's unemployment rate went up to 9-point-7 percent in August. Analysts say that translates to nearly six thousand more people reported as being out of work. That brings the total number of unemployed in North Carolina to more than 450,000.

The economic downturn hit North Carolina harder than much of the country, and it will take the state longer to recover. That's the conclusion of a new report from UNC's Global Research Institute.

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