North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed a law this week to sharply cut benefits for jobless workers, saying the measure marked an important step toward “fixing” the state’s unemployment insurance system.
The law cuts maximum weekly benefits to $350 from $535 and caps benefits at 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate, instead of the current 26 weeks.
According to McCrory, the measure “will protect our small businesses from continued over-taxation, ensure our citizens’ unemployment safety net is secure and financially sound for future generations, and help provide an economic climate that allows job creators to start hiring again.”
North Carolina has more than 400,000 jobless workers, making its 9.2 percent unemployment rate higher than the official national average of 7.9 percent.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobless workers thrown out of work through no fault of their own will face deepening poverty as a result of this decision,” said the North Carolina Justice Center after the bill signing on Tuesday. “North Carolina’s legislature and governor chose to permanently cut benefits, reduce employers’ contributions over time, and reject $700 million in federal extended benefits.”
About 170,000 long-term unemployed workers in North Carolina will lose out on extra federal funds under the new law, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.