The number of North Carolinians who have filed a state and/or federal unemployment-benefit claims during the COVID-19 pandemic period is approaching 1.5 million.
The N.C. Division of Employment Security reported Friday the overall number of individuals who filed claims is at 1.49 million.
Overall for the pandemic, there have been 3.63 million state and federal unemployment claims in North Carolina. Some federal programs require filing additional extended state claims to qualify.
Since the last DES report, there were 2,463 claims on Tuesday, 2,120 on Wednesday and 2,084 on Thursday. A pandemic low of 938 claims were filed April 24.
Altogether, there were 16,172 claims filed over the past seven days.
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.
About 29.5% of the 5.01 million North Carolinians considered part of the state’s workforce as of mid-March have filed a state or federal unemployment claim.
At $6.23 billion, the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program has represented 54% of the $11.43 billion in state and federal funding that’s been provided since mid-March 2020.
When the PUC 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 with the benefit currently worth up to $300 a week, FPUC has paid about $1.35 billion in benefits to North Carolinians.
After $8.16 billion in overall state and federal unemployment benefits were paid from late March through Sept. 30, there had been just $3.27 billion since Oct. 1.
The latest Democratic-sponsored COVID-19 relief bill, which President Joe Biden signed into law March 11, extended the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs through at least Sept. 6.
As of 10 a.m. Friday, the PUA and PEUC programs had paid a combined $2.33 billion in benefits to North Carolinians.
The U.S. Labor Department listed North Carolina with 171,110 PEUC recipients as of April 10, as well as 2,357 PUA participants as of April 17 and 84,884 continuing claims as of April 10.
Regular state unemployment payments were at $1.91 billion, with just about $200 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 state had $3.85 billion in its Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in mid-March 2020. 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 in 2020 added $87 million.
Gov. Roy Cooper said Feb. 4 that the fund contains $2.59 billion, and that he supports drawing down additional money from the fund.
Mark Hamrick, senior economist analyst with Bankrate.com, said Thursday that the economic recovery will be limited in part because “a growing number of employers report struggling to find qualified workers, particularly for entry-level or lower-wage positions.
“The hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, including bars and restaurants, appears to be ground zero for this challenge.
“Firms of all kinds are hustling to meet surging demand while facing higher prices and supply bottlenecks,” Hamrick said.