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Unemployment insurance extended thanks to Gov. Perdue

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Executive order ensures 28,000 people will keep benefits

Governor Perdue took action earlier this month to make sure 28,000 jobless North Carolinians will not lose their last lifeline in the New Year. Previously set to expire at the end of this month, Gov. Perdue issued an executive order so workers in North Carolina could take advantage of a two-month extension in federally-funded jobless benefits.

"Middle class families across North Carolina are working harder than ever, but many are still having a tough time," said Gov. Perdue in her announcement about the order, also noting the extension will benefit more than just unemployed workers.

"In addition to providing desperately needed financial help to the families that actually receive the benefits, these federal dollars will help all North Carolinians because the money will circulate throughout the economy and help support large and small businesses across the state. To be clear, we’re able to achieve these results with no impact on the state budget because all extended benefits resulting from this order will be paid with 100% federal money."

Last spring, Republicans who control the state legislature tied the extension of unemployment benefits to the state budget in an effort to force the Governor to accept huge cuts to education and other vital public services - even though the extension was paid for entirely by federal dollars and had nothing to do with the state budget. Some 37,000 jobless workers went over a month without any benefits until Perdue bypassed the intransigent legislature and issued an executive order to get checks in the mail again.

Unless Congress authorizes another extension of long-term unemployment insurance soon, an estimated 69,700 unemployed workers in North Carolina will lose their benefits at the end of February.

Currently, North Carolina has about a 10% unemployment rate, but that number does not include the long-term jobless workers who have given up finding work and many more underemployed workers who have only been able to find part-time, low-wage jobs.