NC LAST IN NATION at Getting Unemployment Checks Out

RALEIGH – North Carolina’s Division For Employment Security is the worst in the nation at getting employment checks out in a timely manner, and that was before the coronavirus closures hit. Now, the agency is scrambling and foundering in their efforts to keep up with the unemployment fallout of COVID-19. So what’s it like having to hold your nose and file for unemployment in the nation’s worst during a global pandemic surge?

Kari Travis of the Carolina Journal paints a picture of what it’s like to be stuck in this rats nest of state government bureaucracy while also depending on them to come through.

“Ashley Arthur, a Raleigh resident and former software company employee, was laid off in January — before the coronavirus pandemic buried the N.C. Division of Employment Security in new claims from laid-off workers. 

Charlotte residents Tim and Dee Worley, both former professional athletes who now work in nonprofits and as independent contractors, were hit by the economic effects of COVID-19 in April — after hundreds of thousands of unemployed North Carolinians swarmed DES and crashed its website.

They are just a sample of the applicants who are waiting. On pending applications. On payments.

On answers. 

Those answers could be a long-time coming, show unemployment insurance data from an interactive website at the U.S. Department of Labor. 

North Carolina’s unemployment division is the worst in the nation at getting timely payments to its applicants, and has been for several years, data from USDOL’s Employment and Training Administration show. For the first quarter of 2020, North Carolina paid 67.2% of first payments in a timely manner. The national average for the same period was 86.5%.

DES was struggling long before the coronavirus drove its system to the brink. Under pre-pandemic state unemployment rules, people were required to wait one week after losing their job before applying for benefits. States with a one-week waiting period must process unemployment claims and distribute payments within 14 days, ETA policy says. States with no such waiting period must pay an applicant within 21 days.

Gov. Roy Cooper, in one of the many executive orders issued over the past several weeks, waived North Carolina’s waiting period to provide swifter assistance to residents suffering the economic ravages of COVID-19.

That means Arthur’s application, which her former employer immediately verified after she filed her March 13 claim, should already be processed. [CONTINUE READING]

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