The state’s unemployment system, already has one of the most paltry in the nation, was unprepared to deal with the surge of need at the pandemic’s start.
North Carolina was too slow to deliver unemployment checks after COVID-19 hit, a recent state audit found.
The slow response hurt people’s ability to pay rent and mortgages, and buy necessities like food, the just-released analysis by the Office of State Auditor Beth Wood found.
The detailed analysis found the state’s NC Division of Employment Security, an executive branch agency under Gov. Roy Cooper, was unprepared to react to a sudden economic downturn and rapid increase in requests, and wasn’t equipped to get $438 million in the bank accounts of people who desperately needed it.
We put facts first, always. Subscribe to the Cardinal & Pine free newsletter here.
Among those hurting was Shawn Hill-Watkins of Winston-Salem, who spoke to ProPublica in 2020 about having $30 in her checking account and no way to pay rent after waiting more than two months for unemployment.
“There is a real possibility that we will be outside tomorrow,” Hill-Watkins told the news organization then. “I wake up thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about it.”
North Carolina already had one of the weakest unemployment systems in the country when COVID-19 hit, with the Republican-led state legislature having enacted changes years prior that capped maximum benefits at $350 a week.
When the pandemic hit, many like Hill-Watkins waited weeks, or even months, for payments as the state’s unemployment processing system buckled under the sudden surge of a million-plus requests from newly laid-off workers. Unemployment peaked at 13.5% in April 2020, more than three times as high as the state’s current employment rate of 3.9%.
Going forward, the state needs to ensure it processes claims quickly and scales up faster if another disaster similar in effect to the pandemic were to hit, Woods’ audit recommended.
Originally published by The 19th BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — LaTorya Beasley had her first child through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2022, and by...
Leading up to the 2016 election, Donald Trump crafted an image of himself as a successful businessman and a winner. But in reality, Trump has a long...
Public interest lawyers help tens of thousands of people a year. So why does NC’s latest budget target them?
In September, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a budget excluding Legal Aid of North Carolina attorneys from receiving tuition...
As this small Bertie County town sees its population fall, a rich history is being left behind. Here's a closer look at the historic landmarks that...