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Cornelius News

NC had 3rd worst impact from layoffs, furloughs


April 17. By Dave Yochum. As the U.S. economy slows to a crawl due to COVID-19, some 22 million Americans are suddenly out of work—more than 630,000 people filed for unemployment insurance benefits in North Carolina alone.

The job loss is of historic proportions.

During the Great Recession, some 8.8 million Americans lost their jobs.

Jobs created = jobs lost

Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub, said 22.7 million jobs were created following the Great Recession. “COVID-19 is unfortunately on track to wipe out all of the job gains by the end of this week,” she said.

By the end of the next week, the Division of Employment Security plans to have more than three times its original staffing in place to respond to the surge in claims and ensure payments go out as quickly as possible.

DES plans more than 1,600 people working to process claims and issue payments. Prior to COVID-19, DES had a staff of approximately 500.

The division has since added 403 people to the current efforts, including 200 private call center agents and six new technology staffers.

The WalletHub study compared all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia by increases in unemployment insurance initial claims for several key weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina had the third-highest overall impact from layoffs and furloughs.

Additional benefits coming

In addition to providing state unemployment benefits, DES will issue payments for three different federal programs. This week, DES completed implementation of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which pays an additional $600 in weekly unemployment insurance to eligible claimants. Eligible North Carolinians are now receiving these payments.

DES estimates its online filing system will be ready to accept claims around April 25 for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance. The division is also continuing to work on a timeline to provide Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the federal program that allows for up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.

Updates about eligibility and how to apply for these benefits can be found on des.nc.gov.

Help employers too

WalletHub’s Gonzalez said states should “aggressively focus on helping the companies” in the most need.

The federal response includes sending checks to most citizens, even those whose income has not been affected by the coronavirus.

“States can use a more targeted approach to divert resources to the companies affected the most, thus having maximum impact for the money spent,” Gonzalez said.