UNEMPLOYMENT: Jobless Rate Hits Recessionary Level
North Carolina's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate reached 6.9% in August -- its highest point since January 2002 and above the national rate of 6.1%. This level is generally seen only during recessions. The only time this decade that the unemployment rate was higher than 6.9% was in January 2002, when the effects of the 2001 recession still were being felt. Even during the recession of the early 1990s, the state unemployment rate was never this high.
The escalating unemployment rate is a cause for concern and deserves action and attention like that lavished on financial markets recently. At a minimum, federal lawmakers should again temporarily extend the number of weeks for which unemployed workers can receive unemployment insurance benefits. This would help families struggling with unemployment and stimulate the economy. During the high-unemployment period of 2001-02, for instance, unemployment insurance payments had a net impact of $3.8 billion on the state's economy.
An estimated 42,000 North Carolinians will exhaust their unemployment benefits by the end of the year. There is legislation now in Congress (S. 3506/H.R.6867) that would extend unemployment benefits in all states by an additional seven weeks and provide a further 13-week extension for states, like North Carolina, with unemployment rates over 6%.
Use the toll-free number 1-888-245-0215 and tell your members of Congress to extend unemployment benefits.