For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-255-2711
Statement on North Carolina’s Repayment of Unemployment Insurance Debt
“Lawmakers should take action this session to reverse the draconian cuts they made to benefits and eligibility in the 2013 session.” — MaryBe McMillan
RALEIGH, N.C. (May 5, 2015) – We need an effective unemployment insurance system to help jobless workers survive unemployment and to keep job losses from spiraling into economic crises. That North Carolina will pay off its unemployment insurance (UI) debt to the federal government, as Gov. Pat McCrory announced today, is a Pyrrhic victory because the debt-free system – thanks to harsh benefit cuts and UI tax cuts – is no longer capable of being the stabilizing force both workers and employers need.
“Now that the UI debt is paid off, it’s unconscionable to give employers automatic tax cuts while asking workers to continue to sacrifice. Such a double standard is unacceptable,” said MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the NC State AFL-CIO. “Lawmakers should take action this session to reverse the draconian cuts they made to benefits and eligibility in the 2013 session.”
By relying primarily on harsh benefit cuts for jobless workers who became unemployed through no fault of their own, lawmakers have harmed workers across our state. Rather than sit in the middle of the pack in terms of various benefit policies, North Carolina now has some of the lowest numbers of jobless workers receiving benefits and their benefit amounts are also among the lowest. These outcomes are also part of the reason that the debt has been paid off so early.
Our leaders have balanced the books on the backs of jobless workers. This is as callous as it is counterproductive. Real reform would have made sure that employers contribute to the system that they also benefit from and certainly wouldn’t have allowed them to receive tax cuts earlier, as they will now under the 2013 changes.
To truly build an effective unemployment insurance system, we need more than triumphant announcements. Jobless workers have done more than enough to build a solvent system. We need to make sure that state leaders and employers do their part as well. North Carolina’s economy is not supported by an approach that doesn’t recognize the importance of workers in our economy.
The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is the largest association of local unions and union councils in North Carolina, representing union members, fighting for good jobs, safe workplaces, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and quality public services on behalf of ALL working families. PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605.