Unemployment Cuts Punish NC Families

>>Unemployed womanMajor overhauls to North Carolina’s unemployment policies in 2013 were meant to spur job growth and an economic revitalization. Against the protests of many who claimed slashing both benefit amounts and benefit duration would hurt families, lawmakers insisted that the key to getting people into jobs was getting out-of-work North Carolinians off the government dole.

A year has passed and the promise of magically appearing jobs has not come to pass. Without federal subsidies, >>North Carolina offers the least amount of unemployment benefits in the country—a policy intended to increase workforce participation rates—>>yet it experiences the same amount of joblessness as states that provide more generous care for families who are out of work.

Even worse, since the implementation of rules that limit unemployment benefits to three months and decrease payouts by hundreds of dollars a month, North Carolina >>has lost more than 10,000 potential workers. Those thousands of workers decided to take early retirement or rely on state welfare programs instead of continuing a seemingly fruitless search for a job.

Since the end of the recession, >>tens of thousands of workers in the Tar Heel state have found jobs. But those workers have been disproportionately men. >>Women—and particularly women of color—are still suffering from rampant unemployment and an apparent complete lack of jobs in their sectors.  In the last year alone, the state government cut 13,300 jobs, many of which were filled by women. These women now have 12 weeks to find a job or face a complete lack of income.

Prior to the cuts, families >>could receive up to $400 a week in unemployment payments. Averages now hover at closer to $290. For lawmakers not forced to live on this salary, it must seem like enough. But less than $1,200 a month places a family of 3 or 4 well under federally established poverty levels. A family relying on unemployment will undoubtedly need food benefits, medical benefits, and possibly other government payments just to keep their children alive.

Because of this, it turns out that the state government is only saving pennies a week on every unemployed worker. Although this plan was meant to cut government spending and eliminate reliance on the federal government, it merely shifts the need from the unemployment system to other forms of aid. Meanwhile, it punishes women for losing their jobs — an event which they can rarely control.

So women and their kids suffer, >>the government doesn’t save money, and the state’s workforce decreases. This plan doesn’t even come close to working, yet lawmakers continue to champion it as the herald of a new revolution. And what’s more depressing: >>the federal government is following North Carolina’s lead.

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