NC Unemployment problems

Cruelty is the point: The NC GOP's war on the poor & unemployed

There is simply no excuse for this draconian behavior:

It started in 2013 when, just after securing the governorship on top of both houses, the GOP supermajority passed HB4, a bill that made unprecedented cuts to unemployment compensation.

The bill lowered the maximum weekly payment amount from $535 to $350 and completely eliminated state appropriations for unemployment program administration, forcing the program to rely on declining federal funds. As a result, staff time designated to processing initial claims dropped by more than half from 2005 to 2020.

Get that? All these delays in processing the mountain of unemployment claims caused by the pandemic can (and should) be laid at the feet of Legislative Republicans. All this time they've been pointing a finger at Governor Cooper, they should have been pointing it at themselves. That's actually a question I've been trying to answer for a couple months, but I've been approaching it wrong. I looked at budgets going back five years to see if I could find a drop in funding, and couldn't seem to find said line items at all. That's because they're gone, and have been since 2013. Tens of thousands of North Carolinians have suffered because of that, and most of them blame the Cooper administration:

NC's unemployment benefits are a national disgrace

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The NC GOP should be ashamed when articles like this are published:

Because it’s administered by the states, the generosity of UI varies widely. Most states offer up to 26 weeks of UI, but some offer far less: Florida and North Carolina offer only 12 weeks currently, though their generosity increases with the state unemployment rate. Missouri offers only 13 weeks per statute, a number that doesn’t increase with the unemployment rate.

There’s similarly large variance in the recipiency rate — the share of unemployed people getting UI — and benefit size as a share of the average weekly wage. The highest recipiency rate is in Massachusetts, where 57 percent of unemployed people get benefits. In North Carolina, only 10 percent do.

Get that? Only one out of every ten unemployed North Carolinians receive benefits, which means they are out of work a hell of a lot longer than the paltry 12 weeks we offer. Said differently, the draconian measures Republicans enacted 7 years ago are not pushing people back to work, they are pushing families out of their homes. But that 2013 bill did something else, too, which was beyond idiotic:

Hardship and suffering a big part of McCrory's legacy

And the slashing of unemployment benefits tops the list:

When McCrory came on board, the state still owed money to the feds. But he and the Republicans acted like this was money out of their own pockets. Keep in mind that unemployment funds come from a tax on employers. Businesses pay a tax for each employee, which was going to pay back the owed money to the feds. According to an estimate given to WRAL.com, at the rate of pay, the loan would have been paid off by 2019 to 2020 without any interference from the state politicians.

Yet, the GOP pushed through measures that harmed many people so that there would be less money paid out and the loan could be paid back quickly. Instead of going until 2019 or 2020, the owed money ($2.5 billion) was paid off by May 2015. “The debt to the federal government was a tax on jobs,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. McCrory and Berger said businesses were reluctant to hire new workers because of this additional fee in unemployment expense.

This wasn't just a regressive "austerity" measure, which sounds more like something you'd read in an economist's masters thesis than a call for advocacy. This actually took food off the tables of families statewide, exacerbating an already troubling hunger issue, especially among school-age children. And there was no effort to "gradually" reduce the benefits, to soften the blow to these families. No. That $2.5 billion was a nut they wanted to crack, and crack as swiftly as they could, primarily for bragging rights. And they're "still" bragging about it, including the extra billion they bled out of unemployed workers to set aside for "future" needs. And the current crop of unemployed are still suffering from those draconian cuts, and will be until we can take back the Legislature. You want a good message to push next year? There you go.

McCrory doing something right for a change

Cracking down on employee misclassification:

Gov. Pat McCrory took surprise action on Dec. 18 by signing an executive order to target one persistent business practice that experts said is putting a drag on the economy: worker “misclassification” fraud, which illegally takes a company’s workers off the books and calls them independent contractors.

McCrory’s action was stimulated, in part, by a series of articles published in September 2014 by The News & Observer of Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer titled “Contract to Cheat,” which revealed that the state loses $467 million a year in lost tax payments from the construction industry alone, while workers are not protected by workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits.

Not unlike that Martin Shkreli situation, who was just fine ripping off AIDs patients but got locked up for ripping off the wealthy. In this case, the misclassification thing didn't become a problem until McCrory realized the lost government revenues might jeopardize the GOP's tax cuts for the wealthy. Whatever the motivations, it's a growing problem that needs to be fixed, so have at it.

China owes NC companies millions in trade duties

But don't hold your breath:

Stanley Furniture Company, a High Point-based manufacturer, is owed more than $71 million and Hickory-based Century Furniture is due more than $5.3 million in uncollected duties assessed against overseas furniture manufacturers who “dump” products into the U.S. market at artificially low prices. The figures are based on estimates of past payouts of collected duties.

Take it from somebody who watched his industry crumble, due in a large part to Chinese non-compliance with royalty requirements: It doesn't matter what laws we pass or fines we levy, the Chinese will simply refuse to pay and continue to undercut US manufacturers and producers. How can they continue to get away with it? Because powerful US importers and retailers are profiting from the scam:

Setting the record straight on NC's unemployment debt

Kudos to the N&O editorial staff for telling it like it is:

North Carolinians can be forgiven if they don’t applaud the payoff of the state’s unemployment insurance debt a year early, which the governor and the self-satisfied architects of the GOP agenda in the legislature celebrated Tuesday with big smiles on their faces and disgracefully over-the-top rhetoric by McCrory. Said he, “It took visionary leadership, it took courage and it took fortitude to make it happen.”

That’s insulting and ridiculous. Courage? Whose courage? The people who needed courage here were the ones victimized by Republican policies cutting their benefits for their families. Fortitude? The fortitude came from those whose hills got a little steeper thanks to the Republicans.

McCrory (again) tries to blame University system for dismal employment numbers

Tilting at the ivory tower:

In his keynote speech Sunday for UNC’s 221st birthday celebration, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said that universities must prepare more students for technology and research jobs that need to be filled right now.

If that doesn’t happen, he said, thriving industries could leave the state:

“To ensure we get a return on our investment – more importantly, to ensure that no more students at any of our universities graduate with a huge debt, and no job comparable to their investment – universities must continue to help decrease the job gap by honing in on skills and subjects employers need while also stimulating a student’s passion and interest.”

McCrory is basing much of this most recent attack against universities on a Q3 Manpower Survey, which is where he got the 36% stat on employers complaining about talent shortages. But that's the Global average; the US is actually at 40%, which tells you McCrory didn't even read the damn survey, somebody just tossed him a percentage to quote. Which also explains why he missed the most important findings of said survey:

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