Federal pandemic unemployment benefits will end Sept. 4 in North Carolina, affecting more than 150,000 unemployed people.
As we approach Labor Day and celebrate the contributions of workers to our country and our communities, the expiration of Federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) looms on the horizon. Without federal action, the September 4 deadline will mean millions of unemployed across the country and more than 150,000 North Carolina workers struggling to return to work will either receive $ 300 less per week or become ineligible for essential wage replacement provided by federal programs to help meet the needs of their families.
The week ending September 4, 2021 is the last week payable for the following federal benefit programs:
- Federal Unemployment Compensation in the Event of a Pandemic (FPUC) provides an additional weekly payment of $ 300. North Carolina‘s average weekly benefit amount of $ 230 is among the lowest in the country. The weekly supplement of $ 300 is provided to workers receiving NC, PEUC and PUA benefits.
- Assistance in the event of an unemployment pandemic (PUA) provides benefits to workers who are generally not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, such as the self-employed, and who cannot work as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Assistance allowance in the event of an unemployment pandemic (PEUC) provides additional weeks of benefits after a worker exhausted North Carolina state benefits, which currently only last 13 weeks. The vast majority of states offer 26 weeks of benefits.
- Unemployment benefit for mixed employees (MEUC) provides a weekly supplement of $ 100 to workers with self-employment income and W-2 employment.
Workers in North Carolina want to work. As COVID-19 infections continue to rise across North Carolina, workers face public health issues and ongoing care challenges. The expiration of federal unemployment assistance this Labor Day weekend highlights the bigger problem that many states, including North Carolina, do not have unemployment insurance programs that support adequately workers who are struggling to get back on their feet.
North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system is one of the worst in the country. Due to political decisions made in 2013, only 9.1% of unemployed North Carolina workers were receiving unemployment insurance benefits before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The loss of $ 300 per week will bring the unemployed back to the average weekly state benefit amount of $ 230, an amount that will make it harder for people as they try to keep their housing and cover other basic expenses. . Thousands more will see their benefits cease altogether, making it nearly impossible to make ends meet. The loss of federal programs disproportionately harm black workers and workers of color as well as women and people with disabilities, as noted by the National Employment Law Project in their analysis of the important role federal programs have played in addressing disparate experiences of job loss and to compensate for low replacement wages in states with large black populations.
The drastic reduction in the incomes of millions of people, who will then have less to spend in grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses, will cause economic hardship for millions of families and slow down the state’s recovery. The economy is made up of workers, families and communities who pay their bills, buy goods and services, and take care of their families — and that is only afloat at the moment because millions of Americans who have lost their jobs are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. North Carolina has particularly benefited from federal programs, with 80% of UI revenue coming from federal pandemic unemployment programs.
The North Carolina federal delegation is expected to support the expansion of federal unemployment insurance programs and link their termination to key public health and economic measures that signal additional support is no longer needed. In addition, the North Carolina federal delegation should urge state leaders to make changes to state unemployment insurance to reduce the vulnerability of the state’s economy to any change in federal policy and to ensure that adequate wage replacement is available.
If Congress does not act, our elected leaders will no doubt be called upon by their constituents to help with the loss of UI. Here are some programs with which workers and their families can find help for their family’s needs after losing their unemployment benefits:
- Food stamps and other aids: www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low- Income-services
- Rental assistance: www.rebuild.nc.gov/hope-program
- Preventing foreclosure: www.nchfa.com/about-us/nc-homeowner-assistance-fund
- Legal services: ncequaljusticealliance.org/members-name/