RALEIGH (April 2, 2020) – The release of national weekly unemployment insurance (UI) claims data has many groups focusing on the need to extend the now-time limited Pandemic Unemployment Insurance program beyond July 31st.

“There is an enormous amount of uncertainty around how the economic impact of the coronavirus will unfold,” said Thea Lee, President of the Economic Policy Institute. “Assigning arbitrary end dates to provisions to sustain the economy… makes little sense when the process could be handled automatically, by having provisions phase out as the unemployment rate or the employment-to-population ratio are restored to near pre-virus levels.”

North Carolina’s data on initial claims, released by the US Department of Labor today, is reported for the prior week of May 16th, and shows continued elevated levels of initial claims. Projections of advance claims reported suggest that the week of May 9th saw 57,354 weekly claims for UI across the state.

Data from the Division of Employment Security, released daily, show that North Carolina’s jobless claims have topped 1.2 million since March 16th.

Bill Rowe, Deputy Director of Advocacy at the North Carolina Justice Center
“Our legislature needs to focus on the state’s unemployment Insurance program as an essential tool in fighting COVID-19. Our current system is among the stingiest in the United States. Changes are needed—and support for the agency to administer the program under significant strain—so North Carolina can effectively send support to those people feeling the impact now and in the future.”

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.”