NC jobless benefits cuts likely to be unpopular

North Carolinians relying on unemployment insurance benefits as they look for a job may soon have to get by with less—this has attracted quick opposition from groups across the state.

An unemployment benefit overhaul bill was introduced Monday in the state House which could cut the maximum benefits paid weekly to those unemployed from $535 to $350. The measure would also reduce the number of weeks unemployment could be received from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20.

Various groups have been speaking out against the proposal this week including Bob Riggins, who is a union member, working for a trucking company, “These can’t be people living in today’s world that are thinking of these cuts because there is nobody that I know of that can survive on this and raise a family, keep their mortgage paid, keep their kids in college, pay their gas bills, and keep cars going.”

Proponents of the bill say cuts are necessary to begin paying back the $2.58 billion North Carolina owes the Federal government after borrowing to cover the state’s unemployment needs.

Other groups, such as Moms Rising, are against cuts to workers seeking employment. Beth Messersmith speaks for that group, “Back in the 1990s, when we were in the midst of good times, we didn’t save for the unemployment insurance; we kind of did a pay-as-you go plan. That’s not good common sense and that’s not good for the state. Now we’re trying bail out on the backs of struggling workers.”

The measure has received tentative House approval but is yet to go before the Senate.