Ending jobless benefits hurts those in need

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More than 1,500 local residents will be among the 70,000 North Carolinians who will lose their unemployment benefits July 1 under a new state law passed earlier this year.

The N.C. General Assembly approved legislation in January to cut benefits for jobless workers by about one-third and reduce how long they can collect assistance in order to help the state more quickly repay $2.5 billion borrowed from the federal government for unemployment benefits.

The law cuts maximum weekly benefits from $535 to $350 and caps benefits at 12 to 20 weeks, based on the state’s unemployment rate, instead of the current 26 weeks.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent in April, the lowest in four years. But the Rocky Mount metropolitan area, which includes Nash and Edgecombe counties, had a rate of 12.3 percent, the only metro area in the state with double-digit unemployment.

The state’s dropping jobless rate so far has produced no benefit for long-term unemployed residents of the Twin Counties. The number of unemployed workers in Nash and Edgecombe counties has dipped slightly during the past year or so, but not by much. Soon, those people will lose their main source of income without gaining any improved chances for finding work.

Critics of the unemployment reform measure argued at the time of its passage that the plan unfairly penalizes the state’s most vulnerable residents. Staff writer John Henderson helped to put a human face on that argument, telling the story of a laid-off single mother trying to support four children and two grandchildren on a $227 weekly unemployment check, which she will be losing in July. Her electricity has been cut off, and she is behind in her rent.

And all state officials and lawmakers have to say to her is, “tough luck.”


Milking the system

There are those out there milking the system, and they are going to suck off unemployment as long as they can. I, too, believe there are jobs out there for those who want to work. What an embarrassment it would be for me to continue to tell people I haven't found employment yet. Know it now: those people really DO think less of you.

We don't have a friend in Raleigh

Its obvious that the reactionary fanatics in our legislature simply don't care about the plight of average North Carolinians. From this bill they passed to bring harm and suffering to the unemployed and their families to a bill that will deny Medicaid to 500K citizens, phasing out Earned Income Tax Credit for 900K, providing support for private and charter schools that will bring harm to our public school system, allowing predatory loans to return to N.C., telling any one who applies for aid, unless its for corporate welfare, they must pass a drug test and have to pay for it themselves,repealing the Racial Justice Act, allowing Fracking (enjoy your water if its potable), shifting more of the tax burden from the wealthy to you and I, and on and on and on. Its easy to see that they don't care about any of us, average people that is. It would be best for all of us to remember what our legislators are doing TO us during the next election.

There are many drawing

There are many drawing unemployment benefits that are not going to even try to get a job until the benefits end. My daughter, who just finished her first year of college, found a summer job in just one day. I have a hard time believing that there are no jobs out there for people who are really looking. It may not be what they want to do, but there is employment out there. Many businesses have trouble hiring because they can't get people to pass the drug tests.

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