NC could soon join other states in cutting federal unemployment payments off early

North Carolina news

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – People on unemployment in North Carolina could soon stop receiving a weekly $300 federal payment.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Senate and House passed a Republican bill that would cut off the federal money.

Senate Bill 116 would withdraw North Carolina from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation agreement. It would end the additional $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit 30 days after becoming law. 

It is a move about half the country has already made.

The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk where he can either veto it or sign it into law.

As businesses struggle to find workers to hire, state lawmakers are pushing for solutions.

“There are plenty of opportunities for folks who were once employed to re-enter the workforce,” said Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Buncombe).

Supporters of the bill said this will encourage people to get back to work.

“There is just such a significant premium placed on staying at home right now,” said Edwards.

Opponents of the bill said the problem comes down to the high price of child care and low wages.

“It’s offensive to me to suggest that people are lazy and relying on this $300 a week,” said Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake). “North Carolina workers are not lazy. They need a system and a program that supports them.”

Those for the bill point to the many job openings in our area with competitive salaries, saying the peak of the pandemic is over.

“That time has now passed and it’s time for folks to go back to work,” said Edwards.

The federal unemployment money is currently set to end in September, about 10 weeks from now.

Cooper spokesman Ford Porter sent the following statement:

“Unemployment continues to decline as more North Carolinians get vaccinated and back to work. This legislation falls far short on helping remove barriers like affordable childcare while hurting people who are looking for jobs and removing money from our economy which is being used for things like buying groceries and paying rent.”

“It’s a bill that’s going nowhere,” said Nickel. “I expect without any hesitation Gov. Cooper is going to veto this bill.”

CBS 17 asked Edwards if there is concern the bill will be vetoed.

“That’s always a possibility,” said Edwards. “I would hope he would recognize the pandemic is nearly over, that jobs are out there.”

CBS 17 asked the governor’s office if he plans to veto it – they didn’t answer.

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