Legal Services of Southern Piedmont
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|Proposal threatens unemployment benefits in N.C.|
Preserving economic stability among families and the low-income members of our community has never been so important in these hard, economic times. The continued difficult economic situation has resulted in lost jobs for countless people and lost income for families simply trying to survive.
Joblessness leads to evictions, foreclosures, hunger, an increase in domestic violence and poverty. LSSP attorneys assist unemployed workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own in securing unemployment benefits staving off the worst effects of job loss and helping families weather economic downturns. North Carolina still has the fifth highest jobless rate in the nation, and many of the unemployed desperately spend months looking for new jobs with no luck.
Currently, state lawmakers are considering a bill to pull the unemployment safety net, created with unemployment insurance benefits, out from unemployed workers by cutting benefit amounts, weeks of eligibility and other measures to strictly limit worker eligibility. The proposed bill would unfairly lay the burden of the state's unemployment woes on unemployed workers rather than on businesses.
During the 1990's, state laws were passed to cut the unemployment insurance taxes employers pay to cover jobless benefits. Then, as the economy shrank and people were laid off, claims for unemployment benefits rose.
That tax cut directly contributed to the current deficit of the unemployment trust fund. Rather than returning the tax rate on businesses to what it was prior to the tax cut to address the shortage in the unemployment trust fund, the bill the state legislature proposes puts the burden on workers who have lost jobsby cutting eligible unemployed workers' benefits and severely restricting the criteria under which they may successfully apply for unemployment. Most people on unemployment in N.C. already struggle to get by on an average weekly sum of $291.00.
Passing the legislation as it stands now will, in effect, act as a bail out for businesses because of their own shortsightedness by failing to adequately fund the unemployment insurance system.
Major changes included in the bill would
At the end of 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that slightly more than half of those seeking work have been seeking work for more than 27 weeks. When more than half of current job seekers have been out of work for 6 months or more, further limiting the number of weeks and amount of unemployment benefits will only drive more families into poverty sooner.
The bill will also punish workers who are forced to leave jobs because of compelling family reasons like escaping family violence; caring for an ill or disabled family member; or having to quit a job to follow a military spouse to a new location. It will repeal provisions allowing workers to receive benefits when they are forced to leave work due to an illness or disability.
Unemployment insurance is one way to stabilize the economy when times are bad and there is high unemployment. Allowing this bill to pass in the state legislature will hurt N.C. families and our state's economy.
Visit Tarheel Workers' website at http://tarheelworkers.org/ to