NASW-NC Social Work Blog

Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.

Unemployment Insurance- What’s Happening in NC

By Lauren Absher, MSW Intern for NASW-NC

According to a House Finance subcommittee on Thursday, the state needs to alter the current structure of our Unemployment Insurance inLauren Absher order to repay a 2.5 billion dollar debt to the Federal government that has been incurred through employment related costs. According to Representative Howard, who sponsored House Bill 4, our current unemployment insurance system, coupled with the debt, has made North Carolina an unattractive prospect to entrepreneurship. To address this concern and repay our debt to the Federal government, Representative Howard introduced a plan to help expedite the repayment process to 2016 or 2017.

The proposed bill would:

  • Reduce the maximum length of time one can receive unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks
  • Cap the weekly benefit amount at $350 (amount will be determined by the average earnings of an individual’s last 2 quarters of work, rather than the current highest quarter). The current maximum is around $500, but an individual would have to make around $55,000/yr to obtain that.
  • Eliminate the Worker Trust fund and transfer those dollars to help “retire” the debt

These are just a few of the changes the bill would make to our current system. Proponents of the bill feel certain the legislation will make North Carolina more competitive with the South and the Nation by getting “the unemployed to work, rather than compensating them for being unemployed.” However, amidst all of the partisan rhetoric of work related opportunities, economic growth, and assumptions that people on unemployment would rather get an unemployment check than work, our current economic climate and our social insurance structures are not sound. Our current unemployment system, according to Representative Alexander is “structured to compensate at 66 and 2/3 %, leaving people over 1/3 behind in meeting their needs. We are not presiding over a system designed to make anyone fat, sassy or happy.” North Carolina’s unemployment rate is hovering around 9.2% with a 16.1% poverty rate. Additionally, according to legislative staff, $225million will be lost to the unemployed in the first 6 months following implementation of this bill, whereas employers share of the burden will amount to $20million cumulatively by 2015. The impact to employers will be short-term, whereas the impact to the unemployed will be permanent.
This bill passed in the House subcommittee 13-23. It will be voted on by the full House of Representatives Monday evening. Please take some time to phone, visit, or email your representative and tell them this debt should not be paid on the backs of the unemployed and their families. This bill will be discussed in the House, tonight. You can listen online here and click House Chamber.

For more information about the harmful affects of this legislation, click here.

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4 comments on “Unemployment Insurance- What’s Happening in NC

  1. North Carolina is one of the few states with a super majority. I always feel one should reach out to their representative. However, with these dynamics and political climate, this may be an exercise in futility. The House and the Senate holds Republican majorities and the Governor is Republican. There is a Republican super majority. They have the power to do whatever they want without anyone being able to stop them. Over the next four years, North Carolina will be set back 40 years with foreseeable legislative actions that will be taken by this administration. The majority of folks who voted them into office will be the most affected. This super majority pretty much will guarantee North Carolina to be a blue state after their reign of terror is over. It’s also my understand UNC liberal arts is also on the hit list. What does this mean for social work?

  2. naswnc
    February 7, 2013

    Deona,
    You bring up a great point- NC legislators do have a super majority. However, we still have to discuss issues that relate to the profession. If we are not talking about our issues, we will never be heard. If they do not hear our issues, things will be worse. In 2010, NC voters gave up- they had the attitude that it’s not worth going to the polls to vote. What happened? We lost a LOT of legislative allies and those that cared banned together and voted who they wanted in office. If people continue to not exercise their rights- be it voting OR building relationships with their legislators, the voice of the profession and our clients will be lost. We must continue to advocate for our profession and our clients. It’s in our Code of Ethics and it’s the founding of our profession.

    Kay Paksoy

  3. Pingback: Legislative Session, Week 2 « NASWNC

  4. Pingback: Legislative Session, Week 3 | NASWNC

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This entry was posted on February 4, 2013 by in Advocacy and tagged , , .

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