NC Is First State To Drop Benefits For Long-Term Unemployed


by Audrina Bigos

CHARLOTTE, NC- More than 70,000 people in North Carolina are depending on unemployment to make ends meet and now they are dangerously close to losing their life line.

Starting Sunday, North Carolina will be the only state with no safety net for the long-term jobless.

"This unemployment being cut off is devastating. Completely devastating," said Tessa Caldwell, a Statesville resident.

Friday marked one year since Caldwell lost her human resource job after a company merger. On Monday she will receive her last $50 dollar unemployment check. Now, she has a message to North Carolina legislators.

"Walk a day in our shoes. Figure out how you're going to pay your rent. Figure out how you're going to pay your car payment, insurance. Just figure out how you're going to put food on your table," said Caldwell.

On Sunday, North Carolina will become the first state to no longer receive federal money for those on long-term unemployment.

That's because of a new law signed by Governor Pat McCrory in February that goes into effect Monday.

That law cuts the maximum weekly benefit from $535 to $350 dollars. It also reduces the number of weeks that unemployed people are eligible for state-funded benefits. The change cuts benefits to 19 weeks instead of the the 26 weeks that is the national standard.

In addition, the unemployed won’t have access to the federal funds available in every other state because North Carolina is now disqualified from the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program.

"Can you not see how this is hurting the working class citizens. People who are trying to make it," said Caldwell.

North Carolina will also increase taxes for businesses.

State officials adopted these benefit cuts and tax increases as part of a plan to repay a $2.5 billion dollar federal debt.

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