Navigating through unemployment has been challenging for many since the beginning of the pandemic. Some people received a notice of termination of extended benefits this week, creating more confusion. Where do we stand now and what does this mean for you if you are still unemployed? What’s going on with NC unemployment?
Where is NC unemployment at now?
North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in August to 6.5 percent, which is an improvement of two percentage points from July. The U.S. Department of Labor recently notified NC’s Division of Employment Security that the state’s unemployment rate fell below the threshold necessary to remain on Extended Benefits. This effectively reduces the number of extended benefits you are eligible to receive from 9.6 weeks to six weeks by the end of this week.
You are impacted by this development if you are at the end of receiving maximum benefits. If you have applied for and received more than six weeks of regular extended benefits, those will expire on October 10. If you have not yet received the maximum entitlement for extended benefits, your benefits will be reduced to six weeks.
For some history here, the maximum number of weeks that the regular state system currently pays is 12. Congress added another 13 weeks due to the pandemic and then extended it to another six weeks, for a total of 31 weeks.
Are you eligible for additional benefits?
You may still be able to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program intended for people who don’t qualify for additional state benefits. This includes self-employed people and independent contractors. This program is set to expire Dec. 26.
This chart on DES’ website may help you determine if you are eligible for any of these benefits:
On Sept. 3, State lawmakers approved an additional $50 a week to state benefits. However, you may not receive those payments until the end of this month. Officials say it has been difficult to program into the state’s system due to the overlapping of state and federal programs. As a result, this has made eligibility difficult to determine. DES spokeswoman Kerry McComber said that should be done “by October 30.” This increase will be retroactive to September 6, so you should still expect to receive a payment for that.
In short, negotiations are still ongoing between the White House and Congress over additional federal COVID relief measures.