Seven years later, the GOP’s unemployment reforms still haunt NC

February 1992, Providence, Rhode Island, USA --- Unemployed people wait in a long line at the unemployment office in Providence. --- Image by © Joel Stettenheim/CORBIS

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, composed mostly of Republican lawmakers, met on the subject of Unemployment Insurance.

Lawmakers are reconsidering a 2013 reform called the “Carolina Comeback”,  backed by Pat McCrory and the GOP, that was an initiative to reduce unemployment taxes on businesses., but seven years later has seemingly failed to return job seekers to the employment market. 

From N.C Policy Watch:  

Expect them to laud their ingenuity in penny-pinching for the next recession while many thousands of impoverished North Carolinians never really emerged from the last one.

But don’t expect them to call their 2013 reforms to unemployment insurance a failure. And, to their credit, it’s not a failure if you are of the mind that reducing the tax burden for businesses should come at the cost of any sort of functioning safety net for blue-collar workers. Indeed, the wan and cruel system that NC deploys today, one of the least effective in the nation at returning job-seekers to the market, would seem to be precisely what McCrory and company sought way back in 2013.

Those NC residents that were so severely chastened by a callous unemployment system were not lent speed back into gainful employment, as legislative leaders would suggest. Instead, they failed to find work or were driven from the job market altogether, a seriously suppressing outcome for any economy.

It is, it seems, ever the point with this legislative majority which glorifies tax cuts and vilifies welfare programs above all others.

According to the News & Observer, NC now ranks last among states in unemployment benefits, with a weekly benefit average of $247. 

In a 2018 report by the N.C. Justice Center, found that less than 10 percent of jobless workers in North Carolina received unemployment insurance. 

Rather than raise taxes on employers, McCrory and the GOP decided to add a massive burden on workers. An inadequate unemployment insurance system doesn’t just hurt unemployed individuals, but it hurts the businesses where they would shop and, in return, the economy as a whole. 

Tax cuts and special interests should not be placed above North Carolina’s workforce. The faults within the unemployment policies should be addressed and workers deserve representatives that will support them during financial hardships,  instead of giving more tax cuts to corporations.

Alanna Joyner

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