The Self-Inflicted Pain Begins: NC COVID-19 Jobless Claims Spike After Cooper Orders Closures

RALEIGH – One remarkable thing about the sudden economic turn around in this state and nation, is that we are literally doing it to ourselves.

Yes, there is a declared worldwide pandemic hitting out shores (in case you’ve missed that part), but the jarring economic halt we are only just beginning to experience is not from too many workers calling out sick, or from currently overwhelmed healthcare systems due to rapid spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus; no, a nearly 35 percent spike in claims to the N.C. Division of Employment Security is almost wholly in response to government mandated closures and restrictions in anticipation of the virus.

The economic pain is self-fulfilling.

According to reporting by the North State Journal, the Division recorded 4,700 jobless claims through Wednesday morning, and they pointed to COVID-19 as the reason. Not because they had the disease caused by the Wuhan Coronavirus, but because they were laid off (80 percent) or scaled back because of the mitigation response the state government has been leading. A spike of nearly 35 percent after average weekly claims number was around 3,500.

Part of Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders loosened rules for filing for unemployment, such as eliminating the waiting period and temporarily doing away with charges for employer layoffs. The other parts — ordering restaurants and bars closed and banning large gatherings — virtually guaranteed that people would lose their jobs as even as business owners scramble to avoid it.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest pointed out this obvious consequence, which is likely why the Council of State DID NOT CONCUR with his decision to order such closures by diktat. The Cooper administration, and his friends in the media, however, were indignant that his authority should be questioned, and ‘ordered’ Forest to ‘Hush.

As thousands of people are suddenly out of work, with thousands more to come, solely due to an admittedly well-intentioned executive order that very likely crossed the line; should we hush? Or should we maintain vigilance against government overreach even (especially?) during such extraordinary times? It doesn’t mean ignoring the guidance, because everyone of us should do our best to follow these responsible guidelines for the safety of ourselves and others. It does mean that we should take care not to blindly abuse or accept government authority, ‘just because.’ As the self-inflicted part of this crisis plays out, we may find that such orders might do far more harm than good.

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