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Initial unemployment claims trend up again in N.C.

Initial unemployment claims trend up again in N.C.

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Initial state and federal unemployment insurance claims in North Carolina jumped again Monday following a steady weeklong decline.

The N.C. Division of Employment Security reported Tuesday there were 10,458 claims filed Monday.

That's up from 3,063 claims Saturday and 7,139 on Sunday. The seven-day range is 3,063 to 10,458.

The record daily high for the pandemic stands at 43,297 claims filed on Dec. 27 — the day after the federal PEUC and PUA programs expired. DES said in a Dec. 27 statement that "the increase in claims filed after Dec. 26 does not indicate ... new claimants entering the system."

Altogether, there have been 3.17 million state and federal UI claims during the pandemic including 1.4 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.

Payments resumed Jan. 6 for at least 11 weeks for North Carolinians with eligibility remaining for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs.

Congress allowed both programs to expire on Dec. 26. The $908 billion federal stimulus package signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27 restored the benefits through at least March 13.

As of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, those programs had paid a combined $1.57 billion in benefits to North Carolinians, or about 17% of the overall state and federal UI benefits. DES said about 47,000 North Carolinians were affected by the temporary expiration of the programs.

"It is likely that further assistance including larger stimulus payments will be on the way under the new Congress and presidential administration," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com.

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 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.

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 $60 million in benefits.

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 $9.28 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 $1.12 billion since Oct. 1.

DES began reporting Oct. 23 the statewide totals from the temporary $50 increase in regular state UI payments, which raised the maximum weekly benefit from $350 to $400. That program, which has paid out $135.7 million, was allowed to expire by the state legislature on Dec. 26.

Beginning Jan. 3, North Carolinians can 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 $1.81 billion, with only about $100 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.

The current federal extended benefits program has paid out $209.4 million overall.

The federal payments include $591.5 million from a projected $716.6 million from six weeks' worth of federal Lost Wages Assistance funding. There have been just $21 million in payments since Oct. 1.

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@rcraverWSJ

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