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Nearly 1.25 Million NC Workers File for Unemployment, But Senators Tillis & Burr Break for Vacation

Nearly 1.25 Million NC Workers File for Unemployment, But Senators Tillis & Burr Break for Vacation Without Acting on Relief Bill

NC Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security (DES) has taken more claims in just 64 days than it did in all of 2009 during the Great Recession

Raleigh, N.C. — Piedmont Rising Executive Director Casey Wilkinson released the following statement after the N.C. Division of Employment Security reported that the number of North Carolinians filing for unemployment insurance reached close to 1.25 million:

“More than 1 million North Carolinians have filed for unemployment, leaving many without access to health care, which they had gotten through their jobs. But Senators Tillis and Burr are failing to show leadership by calling for the Senate to take action immediately -- instead, they’re going on vacation. Their refusal to push for open enrollment to ensure coverage for North Carolinians who have lost health care during a pandemic is outright cruel and irresponsible.

“Their pathetic response to the coronavirus pandemic has already put the lives—and livelihoods—of millions of North Carolinians at risk. North Carolina families are desperate for relief, and we need Senators Tillis and Burr to postpone their long weekend and do their job: working on behalf of their constituents and protecting workers and families from health and economic harm.”


After more than 1.2 million jobless claims, thousands of store closures, and an unprecedented contraction in economic activity, the coronavirus crisis has left North Carolina’s economy weakened and idling.

North Carolina’s unemployment office has seen a 5,000 percent surge in claims since the start of the pandemic. As of May 18, the state has paid out approximately $2 billion which accounts for unemployment claims filed by more than 500,000 unemployed workers. However, nearly 900,000 claims have been filed, which signals a filing surge that exceeds 5,000 percent.

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.” 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that expanded unemployment benefits passed as part of March's $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill will not be included in the next package passed by Congress, before the U.S. Senate recessed until the first week in June.

Media Contact:

Jessica Coscia


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.

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