The United States Department of Labor released the most recent Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims data this week, showing advanced claims of more than 1.5 million during the week ending June 6th. While these numbers show initial claims have begun to decline, they remain elevated above historic levels and represent significant need for wage replacement across the country.

North Carolina weekly data shows more than 30,000 claims a week, representing a level consistent with weekly claims experienced during the depths of the Great Recession.

More than 1 million individuals in North Carolina have filed claims since COVID-19 began according to cumulative numbers provided by the Division of Employment Security.

“Making sure that Unemployment Insurance provides wage replacement to jobless workers is a first step to ensuring a recovery and minimizing the harm of this recession,” said Alexandra Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “That is why it is critical that the federal UI program is extended before it begins to expire at the end of July and why fixing the state UI program before then should be a top priority of all policymakers.”

Preliminary analysis of the data released yesterday and ongoing analysis of Unemployment Insurance claims in North Carolina shows this program is providing an essential lifeline to families and the economy.

  • Unemployment Insurance claims continue to represent historic levels of job loss and need. Last week’s advance claim figures represent 12 times the weekly claims filed in the same week of May 2019.
  • While some states still have not begun reporting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, North Carolina has received more than 200,000 claims; in the past week, more than 40,000 claims were filed. This is a critical program that provides access to workers who may not otherwise would have received UI and for whom the dollars received represent a stabilizing support to their household budgets and their broader community.
  • Sixty-six percent of the individual claims filed have been paid according to data from the Division of Employment Security. With the rapid surge in claims and the need to ramp up staffing and modernize technology, closing the gap between claims filed and paid will provide a strong support the state’s economic recovery by ensuring people have the dollars to meet rent, utility bills, and other basic needs.