National and state unemployment insurance data show initial claims have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels
the publication of weekly national data on unemployment insurance claims shows that initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims are 92% lower than the same period last year in North Carolina.
The continued week-over-week decline also indicates the continued improvement in the labor market and the important role UI plays in ensuring that unemployed workers remain active in the labor market and seek work. .
“North Carolina’s unemployment system is the first line of defense against people leaving the workforce out of frustration that too few jobs are available,” said Alexandra Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center, a NC Justice Center project. “For more than 467,000 North Carolina residents, our state system has failed, failing to support them until their job searches result in a job.”
New research from the Institute for Economic Policy highlights the critical role that federal extensions of UI eligibility and number of weeks have had in North Carolina, as well as our state’s heavy reliance on these programs to stabilize the economy. Federal Unemployment Insurance provided over 80% of unemployment benefits in North Carolina, which went a long way in stabilizing household budgets, local commerce, and state revenues.
In North Carolina, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which reaches those who would not otherwise be eligible for state unemployment insurance, such as the self-employed or those on contract, provided a wage replacement over the course of the week ending April 24 to over 83,000 North Carolinians.
Unemployment insurance must be the foundation of government work to ensure that people find good jobs that support their families. At present, show national data that despite the improvement in the number of job vacancies in the whole economy, there are still 12 workers officially counted as unemployed for only 10 job vacancies. In addition, well-documented barriers — including here in North Carolina — point to the real barrier to childcare faced by a large part of the working population, which makes it difficult for each worker to return to work.
“Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective tools we have in supporting the economy towards recovery,” said Bill Rowe, deputy director of advocacy at the NC Justice Center. “The key is to provide adequate wage replacement for those who have lost their jobs until the labor market has the quantity and quality of jobs that ensure workers can return to work. “
Julia Hawes is the director of communications for the NC Justice Center.