MEDIA RELEASE: Justice Center calls on lawmakers to extend lifeline to NC families

Unemployment insurance has been crucial to state’s people and economy, letter says

RALEIGH (December 8, 2011) – With federal support for extended unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of December, the North Carolina Justice Center is calling on lawmakers to extend a lifeline for tens of thousands of families across the state.

In a letter sent this morning, the Justice Center describes how unemployment insurance has been critical to the state’s people and economy throughout the Great Recession. Without unemployment insurance, the letter reads, an additional 3.2 million people would have fallen into poverty in 2010. Nearly one million of those individuals would have been children.

If Congress fails to vote on extending unemployment benefits by the end of 2011, the letter says, 70,000 North Carolina families will lose this support in January 2012 alone.

“As these families become unable to pay bills, local economies across North Carolina will suffer,” the letter reads. “Abruptly terminating benefits will cause substantial human suffering and throw another obstacle in the path of economic growth for our state and its communities.”

Federal legislation currently allows states to receive full federal funding for extended unemployment benefits for 34 to 73 weeks after state unemployment programs have been exhausted. In North Carolina, unemployment benefits generally last up to 26 weeks.

“Congress has never cut back on federally-funded unemployment insurance when joblessness was anywhere near this high for this long,” the letter reads. “We urge you to exercise leadership on this issue so we can avoid cutting the lifeline so many North Carolina families are counting on.”

Read the complete letter here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Rowe, Director of Advocacy, NC Justice Center, bill@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2177; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).