Congress needs to keep the Federal Unemployment Insurance supplement afloat

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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In less than two weeks, funds that have served as a lifeboat in these rocky waters known as the COVID-19 pandemic will vanish.

On July 25, the Federal Unemployment Insurance supplement of $600 per week will expire unless Congress acts…and acts quickly.

The loss of these funds will impact over 700,000 people in North Carolina who will lose this much needed supplement unless Congress extends the benefit.

Without the supplement, these workers will have to rely on North Carolina’s average Unemployment Insurance benefit of $274 per week. That equates to an hourly salary of about $6.80….less than minimum wage. Our state has one of the worst Unemployment Insurance benefit programs in the nation.

And this comes at a time when the Employment Security Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce is still engaged in a massive undertaking to tackle mounds of paperwork after nearly 1.1 million people filed for unemployment in North Carolina since mid-March. Roughly 100,000 of those filers were still waiting for financial relief as of July 1. Some of those had filed back on March 15 when Cooper ordered a shutdown of the state’s economy. Some still haven’t seen one dime of relief and now they’re faced with the ultimate of challenges….trying to survive on what paltry amount of state Unemployment Insurance they still haven’t received after four months of waiting.

If Congress fails to act, more than $400 million a week will be removed from North Carolina’s economy at a time when the state can least afford it. That’s pill is even more hard to swallow without knowing if Governor Roy Cooper will place additional restrictions on citizens of the Tar Heel state in light of the recent rapid rise in the number of residents testing positive for the virus.

And, based on the latest COVID-19 testing numbers, North Carolina is not out of the woods yet when it comes to those infected with the virus as well as those whose jobs are lost as a result. Another 27,000 North Carolinians applied for unemployment last week.

North Carolina along with the rest of the country still finds itself in one of the worst health crisis and resulting economic downturns ever.

Without continued aid from the federal government, the effect on workers, their families, and the communities across our great state who rely on local dollars from those shopping at home will be devastating.

We implore each and every member of the North Carolina congressional delegation to step up to the plate and fight for every dollar they can for their constituents here at home. We ask them to please support the continuation of the Federal Unemployment Insurance supplement of $600 per week.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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