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Unemployment benefit claims continue on slight increase in N.C.
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Unemployment benefit claims continue on slight increase in N.C.

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Initial state and federal unemployment claims in North Carolina remained on a modest uptick this week, according to the latest N.C. Division of Employment Security report Friday.

There were 1,486 claims Tuesday, 1,420 on Wednesday and 1,967 on Thursday.

The daily low of 474 for the COVID-19 pandemic was set on June 19.

DES spokesperson Kerry McComber has said DES “generally has lower claims and call volume on Saturdays. It’s the weekend, and the new benefit week begins on Sunday.”

Altogether, there were 9,993 claims filed over the past seven days, compared with 9,240 over the previous seven-day period.

North Carolina is at 3.73 million state and federal unemployment claims for the pandemic. There have been 1.52 million individual claims.

Some federal programs require applicants to file additional extended state claims to qualify.

About 30% of the 4.99 million North Carolinians in the state’s workforce as of mid-May have filed a state or federal unemployment claim over the past 16 months.

The pandemic high for daily claims was 43,297 on Dec. 27. The temporary expiration of federal extended unemployment benefits in late December contributed to the record high.

As of Sunday, new UI claimants will qualify for only 13 weeks of regular state benefits, rather than the current 16.

The Republican legislative super-majority approved in 2013 a sliding scale for UI benefit weeks based on the unemployment rate.

It runs from 12 weeks — which the state had from July 2013 to January 2021 — up to a maximum of 20 weeks.

Before the UI law was passed, North Carolinians received a maximum of 26 weeks.

Benefit payments

North Carolina is at $12.44 billion in initial state and federal UI benefit payments for the pandemic.

Of that amount, regular state benefits are at $1.97 billion, while federal and state extended benefits are at $10.47 billion.

By far the biggest factor in UI benefit payments is the federal pandemic unemployment compensation (FPUC) program at $6.83 billion. That represents about 55% of all UI benefit payments.

When the FPUC program’s weekly benefit was worth up to $600, unemployed and furloughed North Carolinians received just under $4.88 billion from late March 2020 through July 26.

Since the resumption, and with the benefit worth up to $300 a week, FPUC has paid about $1.95 billion in benefits to North Carolinians.

After regular state benefits, the other federal benefit programs providing more than $1 billion in payments has been the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC) program at $1.52 billion, and the pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) program at $1.16 billion.

After $8.16 billion in overall state and federal unemployment benefits were paid from late March through Sept. 30, $4.28 billion has been paid since Oct. 1.

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department listed North Carolina with 142,537 PEUC recipients as of June 12, as well as 1,247 PUA participants as of June 19 and 64,712 continuing claims as of June 12.

U.S. Labor listed North Carolina with 142,537 PEUC recipients as of June 12, as well as 1,247 PUA participants as of June 19 and 64,712 continuing claims as of June 12.

Expiring federal benefits

The two federal UI programs expire Sept. 6 unless extended by Congress, which analysts say is unlikely at this point of the pandemic and economic recovery.

On June 23, the General Assembly approved a Republican-sponsored bill compromise that requires North Carolina to withdraw early from the PEUC and MEUC programs.

The Senate Bill 116 compromise also makes permanent changes to work-search requirements that significantly stiffen eligibility criteria, such as a claimant must respond within 48 hours of an employer’s interview request.

The state Senate voted 25-22 along party lines to approve the compromise. The state House voted 65-45 with three Democrats in support.

Political analysts said it is highly likely Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will veto the bill, and the Republican-controlled legislature will attempt a veto override vote within days of a veto.

At least 72 votes are required to override a veto in the House, while at least 30 votes are required in the Senate.

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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