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Friday, January 27, 2023

North Carolina Democrats push again to expand unemployment benefits

The North Carolina Democratic Party is part of a group calling for reforms to the state’s unemployment system after the federal pandemic unemployment benefits end.

Senators Wiley Nickel, D-Wake, and advocates from North Carolina’s AFL-CIO and North Carolina’s Budget and Tax Center urged the General Assembly on Monday to pass legislation to increase the amount and duration of North Carolina unemployment benefits.

“The loss of important federal benefits puts thousands of families in North Carolina at risk,” Nickel said at a virtual press conference. “Workers should know that when they are in a crisis, they can rely on their payment system. Now, we have more than 200,000 North Carolina families whose federal unemployment benefits have just ended.”

The federal plan ends on September 6. Nickel said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it took $1,200 from North Carolina people every month to pay for food and rent. They said that state Republicans pushed the federal plan to end early because it caused a shortage of personnel throughout the state. They proposed legislation to stop the payment of an additional $300 in weekly benefits. Governor Roy Cooper vetoed this measure.

Cooper pushed for the expansion of the state’s unemployment benefit program, which the Democrats said was one of the worst programs in the country.

Republican leaders, including state Treasury Secretary Delphine, said that the additional unemployment benefits created an “unemployment crisis” in the state.

Folwell said at a September 2 press conference: “I get calls from small businesses every day that they can’t let people work because it’s more profitable for them to stay at home.” “They can’t compete with the federal government. The workers who show up are paying taxes so that others can stay at home.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor report provided by the Office of Minority Leaders in the Senate, North Carolina’s unemployment program ranks last among other states, with 20% of unemployed workers receiving unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor reports that the state ranks third from the bottom in terms of benefit amount and duration.

Nickel and Sens. Paul Lowe Jr., D-Forsyth and Mike Woodward, D-Durham, have submitted Senate Bill 320, which will increase the state’s maximum benefit from $350 a week to $500 a week. It will also extend the duration of the program from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Nickel also suggested providing unemployment benefits for part-time workers and a one-year unemployment insurance tax “tax holiday” for employers. This holiday may cost the state $300 million from its unemployment trust fund. The state currently has a trust fund of US$2.7 billion, which comes from employers’ unemployment insurance premiums and then pays to unemployed workers.

SB 320 was filed on March 18 but has not yet been reviewed in the Senate.

By Nyamekye Daniel

The Central Plaza was launched in May 2019 to meet the demand for high-quality state councils and statewide news across the United States. Our focus is on state and local governments and economic reports. www.thecentersquare.com

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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