MEDIA RELEASE: As the U.S. House of Representatives considers vote on extending federal unemployment benefits, NC Justice Center launches "I am a Tarheel Worker" Campaign

RALEIGH (Dec. 20, 2011) – Today, the North Carolina Justice Center launched a campaign to strengthen the unemployment insurance system at the same time federal policymakers are considering a critical vote on whether to extend federal unemployment benefits. Data released today by the N.C. Division of Employment Security for the month of November shows the state unemployment rate remaining in double digits at 10.0 percent.

As of last month, 451,413 North Carolinians were officially unemployed. Without more consistent, robust job creation, unemployment will remain unacceptably high.

"Federal policymakers must vote to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits," said Bill Rowe, Director of Advocacy at the NC Justice Center. "Never have policymakers considered discontinuing this emergency provision with unemployment so high and the economy so weak."

The “I Am a Tarheel Worker” Campaign launched today with the release of a website, www.tarheelworkers.org, and a call for policymakers to take immediate action before the holidays to extend federal unemployment benefits, which provide critical support to out-of-work North Carolinians and the state’s struggling economy.

“As long as job creation in North Carolina fails to reach the levels necessary to close the jobs gap of 500,000 jobs, the unemployment insurance system serves to support modest consumer spending and keep demand for businesses’ goods and services stable,” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the NC Budget and Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center.
Among campaign’s recommendations for state and federal policymakers are:

  1. Extending the emergency and federally funded provision of unemployment insurance through at least 2012 to ensure workers who have lost their jobs have the modest support necessary to provide for their families and participate as consumers in the economy.
  2. Protecting the state’s unemployment insurance system so that it serves its purpose as an insurance system for the broader economy. That will require North Carolina to maintain existing levels of benefit payments and eligibility for maximum impact in the economy.
  3. Addressing the financing of the unemployment insurance trust fund to ensure that the system is funded in good times and able to support the economy in downturns.

A strong unemployment insurance system is critical to the state’s economic recovery,” said Rowe. “Ensuring that North Carolina can support workers when they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and protect businesses against falling demand for their goods and services will drive our path out of the Great Recession.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Rowe, Director of Advocacy, NC Justice Center, bill@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2177; Julia Hawes, Communications Specialist, NC Justice Center, Julia@ncjustice.org, 919.863.2406