Reactions mixed after Gov. Cooper decides NC jobless must prove work search to keep benefits

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolinians who collect unemployment benefits will soon be required to show proof they are searching for a job — if they want to keep receiving benefits.

This comes after Gov. Roy Cooper announced an executive order that reinstates work search requirements, which were put on hold during the pandemic.

The changes come at a time when many businesses are struggling to hire and fill open positions.

“I think it’s a good move and the timing is right for it now,” said Priscilla Garland, of Chapel Hill.

Starting June 6, anyone receiving unemployment will have to follow these requirements:

  • Claimants must make contact with at least three different employers each week and keep a record of their work search, as is required by state law. One of the three weekly job contacts can be satisfied by attending an approved reemployment activity offered by an NCWorks Career Center or a partnering agency.
  • To continue receiving benefits, all unemployment claimants will be required to register with a jobseeker account on NCWorks.gov, North Carolina’s online portal for employment and training services. Jobseekers can use NCWorks.gov to search and apply for jobs, access labor market information and find opportunities for workforce training. Over the next several weeks, existing claimants will receive notifications about registering for NCWorks.

Business owners like Tahira Guyon support Cooper’s decision to encourage more people to return to work.

But she says she also understands everyone has a different situation, and that some people are unable to go back to work.

“There are a lot of people who have babies, you send them to a babysitter, you don’t know if they mix with other children if they’re asymptomatic — there’s a lot of factors going on,” said Guyon, who owns the Favorite Cheesecake food truck in Durham.

She added that the rules could be gradually enforced.

“When it comes people actually coming back to work, I think it should be a slow rollout instead of a fast, hurry up and lose your benefits type of deal,” Guyon said.

Since the start of the pandemic, North Carolina has distributed more than $11.7 billion in unemployment benefits across multiple state and federal programs.

About 245,000 North Carolinians are currently receiving benefit payments each week.

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