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Initial unemployment benefit claims up slightly in N.C.

Initial unemployment benefit claims up slightly in N.C.

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There was a slight uptick in initial and re-filed state and federal unemployment claims for Thursday, the N.C. Division of Employment Security reported Friday.

There were 4,807 claims, up from 4,346 on Wednesday — the latter likely affected by the Veterans Day holiday.

The state had a pandemic-low of daily claims at 2,025 on Saturday, along with an increase to 10,833 on Monday.

DES spokesperson Kerry McComber said Nov. 2 that "we are beginning to see an increase in claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as people exhaust state benefits and the two federal extensions to state benefits (PEUC and extended benefits)."

PUA benefits are primarily for independent contractors, self-employed people and people with short work histories who became unemployed because of COVID-19. It is available for people who have to be at home to care for a child whose school has closed because of the virus.

Since mid-March, 1.35 million North Carolinians have filed a combined 2.74 million state and federal jobless claims. The daily filing peak has been 34,706 on March 30.

About 31% of the 4.32 million North Carolinians considered part of the state’s workforce as of mid-September have filed a state or federal unemployment claim.

DES has said "a large number" of the new claims over the past two months have come from people reaching one of two filing limitations that include exhausting 12 weeks of regular state UI benefits.

Benefit payments

Altogether, $8.65 billion in state and federal UI benefits have been paid to North Carolinians since early April.

DES began reporting Oct. 23 the statewide totals from the temporary $50 increase in regular state UI payments.

The payment comes from what is known as the increased benefit amount (IBA) program. Payments were at $71.4 million as of 10 a.m. Friday.

The increase is estimated by DES to benefit between 15% and 20% of current UI claimants. Recipients are only new claimants of regular state UI benefits, and those who have not exhausted 12 weeks of regular state benefits during a 12-month period.

The extra benefit was approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in the third round of COVID-19 relief bills that passed Sept. 4.

The average approved N.C. unemployment claimant currently receives $278 a week in regular state benefits, so the extra $50 a week would boost the payment by 18%.

The extra benefit is scheduled to be paid from the week that ended Sept. 5 through the week that ends Dec. 26.

The PECU and PUA programs are scheduled to expire Dec. 26.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, the PEUC program has paid $658.4 million in benefits to North Carolinians since April, while the PUA program has paid $633.9 million.

The largest federal UI program, known as federal pandemic unemployment compensation, is the one that paid a $600 weekly federal supplement from April until Congress allowed it to expire July 26. It has paid just more than $4.81 billion to date.

By comparison, regular state UI payments are at $1.75 billion with only about $60 million being paid out since 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.

The federal payments include $583.3 million from a projected $716.6 million from six weeks' worth of federal Lost Wages Assistance funding.

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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