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As Black NC'ians Bear Brunt of Crisis, Sens. Tillis & Burr Must Back Continuing Critical UI Benefits

As Black North Carolinians Bear the Brunt of Crisis, Senators Tillis and Burr Must Back Continuing Critical Unemployment Benefits


Expanded unemployment benefits set to expire next month, but NC’s unemployment rate is 12.2%


The economic fallout from the pandemic underscores how coronavirus layoffs have disproportionately impacted Black communities, raising the possibility of a setback from which many may not recover


Raleigh, N.C. — Piedmont Rising Executive Director Casey Wilkinson released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor reported this morning that 36,000 more North Carolinians filed for unemployment last week and total claims filed in the state since the pandemic began now top 1.4 million:


“Senator Tillis has spent much of his career making unemployment benefits more difficult to access. As a result, North Carolina has one of the weakest unemployment insurance systems in the country. But with unemployment percentages in the teens and expected to rise further, it’s time for both Senators Tillis and Burr to support keeping the expanded unemployment benefits and not let them expire next month.


“Our state is in crisis and is fueled by a long history of systemic issues that have disproportionately impacted our most vulnerable communities. Especially as Black North Carolinians in particular bear the brunt of this crisis, now is not the time to cut off this lifeline.”


Background


More than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, meaning millions will be left without health insurance.

The latest figures released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce show that unemployment rates increased in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties in April. Fifty-nine counties had rates that were either at or below the state's 12.5 percent not seasonally adjusted rate, which increased 8.2 percentage points from the March revised unemployment rate.


A new report shows that fewer than half of Black people included in the labor force were employed in April, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, further illustrating their greater risk for job losses amid the economic upheaval on top of higher rates of COVID-19, which has now killed more than 100,000 people in the US.


Without the ACA, North Carolina would have entered this pandemic with 500,000 fewer residents insured, and thus 500,000 more who would have weighed seeking treatment for coronavirus-like symptoms against their ability to pay for it.


Tillis’ history of restricting unemployment benefits, blocking Medicaid expansion, attempting to eliminate key public health programs, and limit access to affordable health care dates back to his time as the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives when he fought to reduce eligibility and “touted the benefit reductions.” 


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About Piedmont Rising

Piedmont Rising is a 501 (c)4 issue advocacy organization built by and for North Carolinians to advocate for lower insurance premiums and prescription drug costs and to ensure that more people have access to safe and affordable health care. Through grassroots organizing, education, and engagement, we are amplifying our health care stories and holding our elected officials accountable to the people, and issues they were elected to represent. www.piedmontrising.org

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