by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
The News & Observer’s Will Doran recently wrote a piece on unemployment in North Carolina. The article discusses North Carolina’s surge in unemployment claims due to COVID-19 as well as the difficulties and delays many applicants have been faced with. Doran writes:
North Carolina’s job losses passed a symbolic point Thursday, with more than half a million people now filing for unemployment in the three weeks since businesses starting closing down due to coronavirus.
The jobless claims are equivalent to 10% of the state’s entire workforce.
Doran cites a story by Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis on the timeliness of unemployment payments. Doran writes:
Before coronavirus hit, the state’s unemployment system ranked last nationally in making timely payments, the Carolina Journal reported this week.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor showed that on average, states paid benefits on time in nearly 9 out of 10 cases. But in North Carolina, a third of claims weren’t paid on time. Those figures are for the first quarter of the year, a time period that includes the first two weeks of the surge in coronavirus-related unemployment. One state, Alabama, did not submit information.
“North Carolina’s unemployment division is the worst in the nation at getting timely payments to its applicants, and has been for several years,” reported the Carolina Journal, a conservative-leaning news publication.
The recent federal unemployment package will likely lead to more delays as people apply to receive those funds as well. Doran writes:
Congress approved extra unemployment benefits for people in a recent federal stimulus package.
For people who have already qualified for state benefits, officials here hope to be able to start sending the federal payments — which are more than double what North Carolina pays the average unemployed person — on April 17.
“They don’t understand that everything’s accelerated,” Mark Barroso, a freelance TV crew member from Pittsboro told the N&O recently, questioning why the federal benefits were taking so many weeks. “They need to speed up everything.”
Even without the extra applications yet from people like Barroso who expect to apply only for the federal benefits, Taylor has said the massive volume of unemployment claims is already like nothing North Carolina has ever seen before.