RALEIGH (April 23, 2020) – The release of national weekly unemployment insurance (UI) claims data shows that initial claims have continued to climb.

North Carolina’s data on initial claims, released by the US Department of Labor today, is reported for the week of April 11th, confirming that more than 140,000 North Carolinians filed for unemployment insurance. While somewhat lower than the previous week, this tally is still roughly 40 times higher than the average for the weeks preceding the COVID-19 outbreak. Projections of advance claims reported suggest another 104,000 initial weekly claims for UI were filed in the week ending on April 18th across the state.

Data from the Division of Employment Security released daily and available here show that North Carolina’s jobless claims have topped 705,000 from March 16th-April 22nd.

At present, North Carolina UI benefits are near the bottom of the 50 states with an average weekly benefit of $277 (and a maximum of $350), with the maximum term of eligibility capped at a nationwide low of 12 weeks (most states provide up to 26 weeks of benefits). During this unprecedented period of economic and social unrest, jobless workers are experiencing the fallout of policy decisions made over the past decade.

Bill Rowe, Deputy Director of Advocacy at the NC Justice Center
“As North Carolina enters a period of economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be imperative for the state to make significant adjustments and improvements to its UI system in order to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands out of work across the state. If indeed COVID-19 becomes cyclical as many public health professionals suggest and should a full recession in the national and state economy occur, it is critical that jobless workers in North Carolina have the same duration as most workers in states across the country—26 weeks so that they don’t get pushed into poverty and can consider retraining and new careers.”

Patrick McHugh, Senior Economic Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center
“This unprecedented emergency requires bold and ongoing action. None of the actions to date at either the federal or state levels are sufficient to erase the financial harm North Carolina families are experiencing. We can’t repeat the mistakes of the Great Recession and pull back on stimulus before this storm is over. Both Senate Leader McConnell calling for a pause in aid and the limited proposals currently being circulated by leadership in the General Assembly fail to acknowledge the severity of the situation.”

MaryBe McMillan, President, North Carolina State AFL-CIO
“When workers lose wages and jobs, as is happening with measures required to contain the coronavirus, it is critical that our Unemployment Insurance quickly and effectively provide support. When working people have the dollars they need to make ends meet and don’t get pushed into poverty, they and our economy can thrive. It’s time to focus on workers.”

For more information about the federal Unemployment Insurance changes in the CARES Act click here.