State unemployment benefits remain static as federal dollars wind down

NC lawmakers push to extend unemployment benefits

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some North Carolinians on unemployment are going weeks without receiving benefits as they wait to get accepted to federal programs.

However, by December, many of those federal programs run out, as will people’s unemployment benefits.

A bill signed by Gov. Roy Cooper last week will add an extra $50 per week for people receiving unemployment benefits in North Carolina. However, the money is funded by the federal government and is set to expire in December.

“$50 a week to a lot of families is helpful but I am concerned that yet again we did not go far enough,” state Senator Natalie Murdock said.

Murdock was one of a handful of Democrats who voted against the bill. One reason is that she believes it didn’t fix some of the underlying issues with North Carolina’s unemployment system.

Currently, the maximum anyone can earn on state unemployment benefits is $350 a week for 12 weeks. Democrats, including Murdock, wanted to push that to $500 a week over 24 weeks.

“Overhauling the system to provide benefits for a longer period of time in addition to that weekly increase,” Murdock said.

The time limit on benefits is starting to come into greater focus for some WBTV viewers on unemployment.

“I was until it ran out in August,” Stanley Owens told WBTV.

Stanley Owens told WBTV after his benefits ran out he applied for a Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extends benefits through the end of the year. But it took more than a month for that transfer to take place while he received nothing from DES.

“What they were doing is re-certifying me to make sure I hadn’t gone back to work or something like that and hadn’t told anybody, which was ridiculous,” Owens said.

The concern from some Republicans in Raleigh about extending unemployment benefits is that it would draw down on the trust fund that is currently well funded even during the recession.

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