RALEIGH (May 3, 2020) — Not even the worst economic crisis in generations, with 1 million North Carolinians out of work, could move NC House negotiators to agree to a small, positive step to fix North Carolina’s broken Unemployment Insurance (UI) program.
This past weekend House Conferees refused to accept the NC Senate’s provision in SB 704 (COVID-19 Recovery Act) that would have increased the maximum weekly UI benefit from $350 to $400 and changed temporarily the way the state calculates UI weekly benefits. This formula was adopted in 2013 for the sole purpose of reducing the assistance available to those out of work through no fault of their own. North Carolina is the ONLY state to use such a harsh formula in calculating UI benefits.
Hopefully, the General Assembly will address the deficiencies of North Carolina’s UI system – which has the unwelcome distinction of being one of the worst in the country – for the amount and duration of benefits, along with a rock bottom recipiency rate of under 9 percent of North Carolina’s unemployed workers receiving benefits.
There are positive signs going forward that progress can be made. The NC Senate deserves credit for its bi-partisan and universal support for these improvements, and the NC Chamber of Commerce has said it is willing to consider supporting changes that lifts the state’s UI system from being the stingiest for workers when they need it most.
What is unclear is if the NC House will ever consider doing the same. Such uncertainty is disappointing and quite remarkable during these unprecedented times.
We hope the next time the General Assembly comes back into session action will be taken to repair North Carolina’s broken UI’s system.