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N.C. approaches $10 billion in unemployment benefits for pandemic

N.C. approaches $10 billion in unemployment benefits for pandemic

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As North Carolina approaches $10 billion in state and federal unemployment benefit payments, the number of initial claims appears to be stabilizing in February.

The N.C. Division of Employment Security reported Tuesday that benefit payments have reached $9.9 billion to unemployed and furloughed North Carolinians.

After $8.16 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits were paid from late March through Sept. 30, there had been just $1.74 billion since Oct. 1.

DES reported there were a combined 15,284 initial claims filed since Thursday. The seven-day range is 2,215 on Saturday to 5,975 on Monday.

Overall, there have been 3.33 million initial state and federal claims for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The record daily high for the pandemic stands at 43,297 claims filed on Dec. 27 when the federal PUA and PEUC programs expired temporarily. 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 1.44 million initial claims. Some federal programs require filing additional state claims.

About 28.6% of the 5.01 million North Carolinians considered part of the state’s workforce as of mid-December have filed a state or federal unemployment claim.

The $908 billion federal stimulus package signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27 restored benefits for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs through at least March 13 and payments through April 5.

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, the PUA and PEUC programs had paid a combined $1.79 billion in benefits to North Carolinians.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program was restarted retroactive to Dec. 27. It also is set to expire on March 13.

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 with the benefit currently worth up to $300 a week, FPUC has paid about $440 million in benefits to North Carolinians. The COVID-19 relief package would increase that amount to up to $400 a week.

DES said Friday that the federal extended benefits program will expire in the state on Feb. 20 because the state no longer meets federal requirements. There has been $219.5 million in payments to North Carolinians.

DES said it has issued IRS Form 1099-Gs to people who received unemployment benefits in 2020. The form shows the total amount of benefits paid to the claimant during the previous calendar year.

Unemployment benefits are subject to state and federal income tax and should be reported on claimants’ tax returns. 1099-G forms were delivered by email or mail and are also available through a claimant’s DES online account.

As of Tuesday, regular state unemployment payments are at $1.84 billion, with only about $130 million being paid out since Oct. 1.

Most unemployed and furloughed North Carolinians began exhausting their 12 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits in June and well before Oct. 1. The maximum number of weeks was raised to 16 in January for new claimants.

The state had $3.85 billion in the state Unemployment Insurance 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.

Cooper said Thursday the fund contains $2.59 billion, and that he supports drawing down additional money from the fund.

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@rcraverWSJ

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