by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, the Winston-Salem Journal’s Richard Craver wrote an article on a plan from Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, to reopen the economy. Craver writes:
Krawiec said she favors opening up the national economy on a piecemeal basis, saying, “It is time for each state to make a decision about how to move forward while protecting its citizens.”
Krawiec also questioned whether Governor Cooper’s steps to shut down the economy were appropriate – given the state unemployment office’s underperformance. Craver writes:
Krawiec questions whether Cooper should have issued his March 27 stay-at-home order before ensuring the state’s unemployment insurance claims-processing system was working properly.
JLF’s Mitch Kokai commented in the story:
The N.C. Division of Employment Security’s “poor record of timely benefit payments predates the COVID-19 pandemic, and it predates the Cooper administration,” said Mitch Kokai, senior policy analyst with Libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation.
“But Cooper is the governor who decided to shut much of the state’s economy down, thus thrusting several hundred thousand more workers into the unemployment system. To have done so without a plan for improving unemployment benefit distribution is worthy of comment.
“Sen. Krawiec is sharing with constituents a level of frustration that’s probably shared by many of her colleagues.”
Carolina Journal reported on the lackluster performance of the state unemployment system at the beginning of April. Reporter Kari Travis wrote:
North Carolina’s unemployment division is the worst in the nation at getting timely payments to its applicants, and has been for several years, data from USDOL’s Employment and Training Administration show. For the first quarter of 2020, North Carolina paid 67.2% of first payments in a timely manner. The national average for the same period was 86.5%.
DES was struggling long before the coronavirus drove its system to the brink. Under pre-pandemic state unemployment rules, people were required to wait one week after losing their job before applying for benefits. States with a one-week waiting period must process unemployment claims and distribute payments within 14 days, ETA policy says. States with no such waiting period must pay an applicant within 21 days.