Gov. Cooper signs executive order to help unemployed North Carolinians get back to work

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday signed an executive order focused on helping unemployed North Carolinians get back to work.

The full announcement from the governor’s office can be read below:

Governor Roy Cooper today issued an Executive Order that the Department of Commerce will increase efforts to help North Carolinians who file for unemployment benefits return to work.

Executive Order 200 establishes a flexible work search requirement for all new claimants who apply for unemployment benefits on or after March 14, 2021. With the recent end of the Extended Benefits program for state unemployment under federal law, this step will ensure that out of work North Carolinians can access job seeking assistance available through NCWorks and other state-sponsored job search programs.

The Order directs the Department of Commerce to interpret work search laws flexibly to account for burdens posed by COVID-19 that could affect a job seeker’s ability to satisfy search requirements. The department is also directed to establish a broad set of reemployment activities that qualify for a claimant’s job search.

“More jobs are being created as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, and people who are out of work need help getting them. Unemployment payments have been critical for families and we want them to have jobs before the payments end,” said Governor Cooper.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than $10 billion in unemployment benefits has been disbursed to North Carolinians through multiple state and federal benefit programs, despite the state providing among the fewest weeks of state benefits in the country.

In his COVID relief budget announced in February, Governor Cooper proposed expanding state unemployment benefits, which are still among the lowest in the country. Since the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance is high and the ongoing need of North Carolinians out of work due to the pandemic is so great, he proposed that the maximum duration of benefits be increased to 26 weeks and the maximum benefit be increased from $350 to $500 per week.

For assistance searching for work in North Carolina, job seekers can contact NCWorks for remote services at NCWorks.gov or call 1-855-NCWORKS.

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