As Federal Unemployment Benefits End, Challenges Remain For Some North Carolinians
Federal pandemic unemployment benefits ended this weekend. This means many out-of-work North Carolinians are receiving their last check.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that overall unemployment claims are down in the state, but there’s still a significant number of people depending on benefits. For the week of August 28, around 200,000 residents were receiving some kind of wage replacement.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation account for most of these claims. Those programs are now over, as is the additional $300 per week on standard benefits — significant because North Carolina has one of the lowest weekly unemployment payouts in the nation.
Alexandra Sirota is the Director of the Budget & Tax Center at the North Carolina Justice Center, an economic and social justice advocacy group. She says this money is going a long way to keep people out of poverty.
“Without it, many families are going to face challenges,” says Sirota. “We’re at a very precarious point in the recovery. And with the loss of income circulating in the economy, it’s going to be more challenging for businesses to hire.”
Sirota says that connecting people to available resources like food, rental, mortgage, and job search assistance is critical during this time.
In 95 percent of counties in the state, there are still more people looking for work than before the pandemic began.