Thursday, February 14, 2013

North Carolina Approves Steep Benefit Cuts for Jobless in Bid to Reduce Debt

All of a sudden I find myself interested in the news out of North Carolina.

At the New York Times:
North Carolina lawmakers approved deep cuts to benefits for the jobless on Wednesday, in a state that has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates.

In a debt-reducing effort, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to cut maximum weekly benefits to $350 from $535, a 35 percent drop; reduce the maximum number of weeks for collecting benefits to between 12 and 20 weeks from 26 weeks; and tighten requirements to qualify. The cuts would begin with new jobless claims on July 1.

If the bill is signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, as expected, North Carolina would be the eighth state to roll back jobless benefits under the growing financial burden of the recession.

The measure’s sponsors said it would spur job growth by paying down $2.5 billion in debt to the federal government. The bill passed the State Senate by a vote of 36 to 12.

“North Carolina owes the federal government $2.5 billion because of a broken unemployment insurance system,” said Mr. McCrory, a Republican. “We’re going to pay down that debt, make the system solvent and provide an economic climate that allows businesses, large and small, to put people back to work.

But critics warned of dangerous consequences. The state has the nation’s fifth-highest unemployment rate, at 9.2 percent, compared with the national average of 7.9 percent.

“We have a jobs crisis — there are about three unemployed workers for every job,” said Bill Rowe, the director of advocacy for the North Carolina Justice Center, which aids low income workers. “We’re turning down money to make cuts for what are not really legitimate reasons.”

"Not legitimate." As if improving the business climate isn't, the freaks.

More at that top link.