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North Carolinians: “I don’t know that I’ll be able to make my bills or buy enough food.”


July 14, 2020

North Carolinians: “I don’t know that I’ll be able to make my bills or buy enough food.”

Less Than Two Weeks Until Unemployment is Cut, But Senators Tillis and Burr Still Refuse to Help Struggling North Carolinians

Raleigh, N.C. - North Carolinians who have lost jobs because of the pandemic are facing the prospect of being unable to pay bills or afford food when expanded federal unemployment insurance expires less than two weeks from now. If federal unemployment insurance is cut, average weekly payments in North Carolina will drop from $877 to just $277. Thanks to cuts to North Carolina’s state unemployment system made in 2013 by then-House Speaker Thom Tillis, North Carolina is already “the worst state to be unemployed” with some of the lowest state unemployment payments in the nation.

Earlier this month, Senator Tillis said that extending federal $600 weekly payments beyond July 31 may “make the problem worse.” Senator Richard Burr has refused to comment.

“If Senator Tillis and Senator Burr do not act to extend federal unemployment insurance, they will be robbing struggling North Carolinians of their ability to pay for food, housing, health care, and other basic living expenses,” said Piedmont Rising Executive Director Casey Wilkinson. “Because of the on-going pandemic, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are still facing the worst economic circumstances of their lives, and forcing them to take another pay cut would be devastating. Tillis and Burr must commit to extending expanded federal unemployment insurance beyond July.”

More from Bloomberg News:

Raven Gilbert used to manage the bar at Hunter House & Gardens, a wedding and event venue in Huntersville, North Carolina, before she was laid off in March. She said she didn’t qualify for regular state jobless benefits but was able to get PUA.

Even with the $600 weekly bonus, the sum falls short of what she was making earlier this year. Though she hopes her job will become available again, she’s been looking for a new job but bars are still closed and restaurants are operating at reduced capacity. Without the extra unemployment benefit, she qualifies for just $134 a week in government aid.

“I don’t know what will happen,” Gilbert said. “I don’t know that I’ll be able to make my bills or buy enough food.”


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