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Initial unemployment benefit claims remain on downtrend path in N.C.
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Initial unemployment benefit claims remain on downtrend path in N.C.

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The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August and a sign that the resurgent virus has likely escalated layoffs. The latest figures for jobless claims, issued Thursday by the Labor Department, remain at levels never seen until the virus struck.

The resumption of three federal extended unemployment insurance benefit programs is playing a role in a reduction of new claims in North Carolina.

DES reported Friday there were 6,638 claims Friday. The seven-day range is 3,063 on Jan. 9 to 10,458 on Monday.

The number of claims has dropped for three consecutive reports.

There was an initial jump in N.C. claims following the Dec. 26 expiration of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs.

The record daily high for the pandemic stands at 43,297 claims filed on Dec. 27.

The N.C. Division of Employment Security said in a Dec. 27 statement that "the increase in claims filed after Dec. 26 does not indicate ... new claimants entering the system."

Payments resumed Jan. 6 for at least 11 weeks for North Carolinians with eligibility remaining for the two programs.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, those programs had paid a combined $1.58 billion in benefits to North Carolinians, or about 17% of the overall state and federal UI benefits.

Altogether, there have been just under 3.2 million state and federal UI claims during the pandemic including 1.41 million initial claims. Some federal programs require filing additional state claims.

About 32% of the 4.37 million North Carolinians considered part of the state’s workforce as of mid-November have filed a state or federal unemployment claim.

The resumption of federal unemployment benefit payments also included the temporary restart of the primary funding program that Congress allowed to expire in July.

The $300 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments were made retroactive to Dec. 27.

They are currently set to expire March 13 unless extended by Congress and President Joe Biden. Biden included in his COVID-19 relief plan, unveiled Thursday, increasing the weekly benefit amount from $300 to $400.

When the FPUC weekly benefit was worth up to $600, unemployed and furloughed North Carolinians received just under $4.88 billion from late March through July 26.

Since the resumption, FPUC has paid about $70 million in benefits to North Carolinians.

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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