North Carolina lawmakers have decided to be ruthless with respect to the unemployed rather than just to seem to be ruthless.
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. According to the National Employment Law Project (pdf),
At the onset of the Great Recession, all states offered workers up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance (UI) protection. This standard, which dates back to the 1950s in nearly all states, has come under unprecedented attack in state legislatures across the country. Over the past three years, seven states have cut the maximum number of UI weeks available, with additional cuts on the horizon in other states.
North Carolina has the nation’s fifth-highest unemployment rate, at 9.2 percent, compared with the national average of 7.9 percent.