North Carolina Leads the Way in Cutting Aid for the Jobless

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A person takes part in 'THE LINE', a protest representing 14 million unemployed Americans and demanding action from congress and corporations down on Wall Street March 6, 2012. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty)

For the long-term unemployed, in an economy that seems to penalize people who have been out of the workforce for a long time, do long-term unemployment benefits solidify the situation?

Is there a spark that might move the unemployed to make a transition back into the labor market—a spark that is somehow extinguished by a steady check?

They are trying to answer that question in the state of North Carolina, where the state's unemployed are eligible for 20 weeks of benefits, down from 73, with reduced benefits as well.

At the end of last year as the federal government allowed long-term unemployment benefits to expire for 1.3 million Americans, North Carolina led the way in also reducing benefits, and now several states are taking North Carolina’s lead and cutting weeks of aid.

Paul Tine is a North Carolina state representative, a Democrat from the sixth district. He voted for the unemployment cuts. He is a fiscal conservative, and was concerned about the benefits' contribution to the state's growing debt.

Jaslyn Roberts is the career center director for Charlotte Works, a job training organization. She says the state benefit cuts have gotten more people into her agency to get help, but she's also seen a lot of desperate, frustrated clients.

Together they explain how things have changed in the state since benefits have been cut.


Jaslyn Roberts and Paul Tine

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]

C. David Kearsley from Saint Paul, Minnesota

The principal reason for long-term unemployment is corporations' sitting on approximately 2 trillion dollars that they're too scared to invest in new projects, and the capital equipment and employees required to complete them. I'm a veteran with two STEM degrees and an extensive background in aerospace electronics. I was unemployed or underemployed for two years, after being laid off from my job as an aerospace software engineer in 2010. I looked for work for 8-12 hours of every day of those two years. looking for a job quite literally became my job. Blaming the jobless is part of a right-wing strategy born of malevolence.

Jan. 23 2014 02:39 PM
Linda from Baltic, Ohio

As an adult, I had this sudden memory, which must be from before six months of age because my mom stopped breast feeding me at six months. This memory is only of what I saw: overhead, patterns of light and color as though a painted teacup were above me, flat and smooth but curving up around me. A large glob is moving toward me, and I'm happy about that, and the glob is bringing me something I want that comes from the middle of the glob. I wouldn't say that I love the glob, but I am quietly contented to see it coming. It rounds the doorway toward me with some emotion of urgency or at least hurriedness because it bends from the middle toward me.

Jan. 23 2014 10:19 AM
Sam Winston from Detroit, Michigan

Long term unemployment definitely isn't incentive to stop working. One cannot climb out of poverty via unemployment. The idea that people on unemployment are all milking the system to get rich is a misconception created by fundamentalist neo-conservatives. you need the tax revenue or local services, that's why it exists. not some liberal plot to make us socialists.

Jan. 23 2014 09:26 AM

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