Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill Tuesday that will make life much harder for North Carolina's unemployed workers. Beginning July 1, new claims will be reduced from $535 to $350 as the maximum benefit per week. And while current recipients can get unemployment insurance payments for 26 weeks, that number will be cut to a maximum of somewhere between 12 to 20 weeks, the duration varying depending upon the state's unemployment rate. If the maximum fell below 19 weeks, North Carolina would offer the lowest maximum number of weeks in the country. The bill also rejects extra benefits allowed under federal law, which means that 170,000 residents will lose $780 million in current weekly payments.
"As one of the first laws under his tenure, these cruel cuts will forever mar any legacy that Gov. McCrory hopes to leave behind," said MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO. "Only bullies kick people while they are down. Shame on our governor and our legislature for turning their backs on unemployed workers."
Said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in a statement:
These heartless cuts, in the state with the fifth-highest jobless rate in the nation, at 9.2%, show a shocking disregard for 400,000 unemployed North Carolinans and their families, many of whom will now go from struggling to barely make ends meet to outright struggling to survive. The immediate pain of these cuts will fall on North Carolinans unfortunate enough to lose work through no fault of their own in a weak economy where jobs are scarce. But the entire state will take a hit from the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in spending at local businesses that would’ve boosted the local and state economies.