RALEIGH, NC (July 15, 2021) —This morning the U.S. Department of Labor released the latest weekly data on Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims, showing that the number of jobless workers making initial UI claims in North Carolina continued to decline.

There were 4,879 initial claims filed in North Carolina during the week of July 3rd, a reduction from the prior week’s initial claims as well as an 83 percent in claims from the prior year’s initial claims during the same week. Notably, data on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims also declined over the past week.

“Unemployment Insurance provides a critical stabilizing force in the local economy, keeping people spending and engaged in looking for jobs while jobs return,” said Bill Rowe, Deputy Director of Advocacy at the NC Justice Center. “North Carolinians who take part-time work should be able to access UI to stabilize their income as they look for full-time jobs. In addition, establishing a work-sharing program option for employers to keep workers who know their business on the payroll during future downturns.”

Hires accounted for 5 percent of total North Carolina employment in March, one of the highest shares of state employment and significantly above the national.

“There’s just no evidence that UI is keeping people from going to work,” said Patrick McHugh, Research Manager with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “North Carolina had one of the highest hiring rates in the country in March, while Florida, which also has extremely limited state benefits, had one of the lowest. The differences in where hiring is happening really isn’t rooted in their UI systems, but rather in deeper issues around who has access to employment, whether the jobs on offer match the skills of people who are looking for work, and the overall pace of the recovery.”

The U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey provides a snapshot of conditions facing families during the week ending July 5th:

  • 849,000 North Carolinians expect the loss of employment or income in the next four weeks
  • More than 200,000 North Carolinians are caring for young children who aren’t in school or daycare or for older North Carolinians
  • Nearly 60,000 North Carolinians did not have transportation to work
  • Forty-eight percent of those not working in the past week had a high school education or less

“The reality is that North Carolina can’t afford not to invest in getting people back to work,” said Alexandra Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center. “A state-level commitment with the available state General Fund dollars will demonstrate that legislators understand and commit to making working people’s lives better now and in the long-run.”

A back-to-work agenda is needed. It must include fixes to UI alongside investment in workplace protections and supports to working families earning low wages that ensure access to affordable child care, transportation, and long-term housing.

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