Daily initial state and federal unemployment claims in North Carolina declined for a third consecutive report, the state Division of Employment Security said Friday.
There were 6,594 claims Thursday, down from the two-week high of 8,554 for Tuesday.
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. DES 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 $1.64 billion in benefits to North Carolinians, or about 17% of the overall state and federal UI benefits.
Altogether, there have been 3.24 million state and federal UI claims during the pandemic, including 1.42 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 Jan. 14, 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 $137 million in benefits to North Carolinians.
DES said it is waiting for U.S. Labor guidance on how to implement the new Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program. That program would provide an additional $100 per week "to eligible claimants who are receiving state UI benefits and meet self-employment income requirements."
North Carolina is at $9.4 billion for state and federal UI benefit payments to unemployed and furloughed individuals.
After $8.16 billion in state and federal UI benefits were paid from late March through Sept. 30, there had been just $1.24 billion since Oct. 1.
Beginning Jan. 3, North Carolinians have been able to draw up to 16 weeks of regular state UI benefits over a 12-month period. Before Jan. 3, 12 was the maximum number of regular state UI benefit weeks.
Regular state UI payments are at $1.82 billion, with only about $110 million being paid out since Oct. 1. Most unemployed and furloughed North Carolinians exhausted their 12 weeks of regular state UI benefits well before Oct. 1.
The state had $3.85 billion in the state UI Trust Fund in mid-March. State legislators said Sept. 2 that between $2.9 billion and $3 billion remained in the fund at that time. The third COVID-19 relief bill added $87 million.