Thousands of North Carolinians still unemployed as supplemental benefits set to expire

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Right now, roughly 220,000 North Carolinians are unemployed. With supplemental benefits set to expire this week, the clock is ticking for people who are healthy and able to return to work.

So what’s holding people back from landing a job?

“At our last count, we had about 40,000 positions available here in Guilford County. About 15,000 residents who are currently/actively collecting unemployment benefits,” said Chris Rivera, executive director at NC Works.

But those benefits are set to expire at the end of the week, cutting unemployment checks from $600 a week to $350.

“That makes me very nervous. I’ll be very affected by that, so I better get a move on and get back into the workforce. I’m ready to go,” said Shane Swaim, who is looking for work.

Swaim has been seeking work since January when he was let go from his job as a call center representative.

“My position was eliminated due to COVID,” Swaim said.

He was at NC Works trying to build his resume and find a similar job.

While he’s gotten a few callbacks, there’s still one thing holding him back from landing the job.

“There are still too many areas that don’t have access to high-speed internet and that’s what impacted me. That’s why I’m out of work today,” Swaim said.

The 56-year-old is hoping an employer will soon give him a chance.

With tens of thousands of jobs available in the Triad, what are other reasons people aren’t going back to a 9-5?

“There’s some hesitancy entering the workforce and individuals are being particular about what type of work they are looking for,” Rivera said. “If the job is not offering flexibility to work remote or some hybrid version of that, those are considerations as well.”

“Working in the health care industry, my hours were cut,” Stefanie Pompey-Rutledge said.

She’s been conducting temperature screenings in the health field. She’s hopeful she’ll either find a different job in the same industry or her full-time hours will pick back up as the delta variant continues to rage

“There’s so many other people out there looking for work and I think it’s just a delay with so many applications they have to process and look through,” Pompey-Rutledge said.

One man told FOX8 he drives Uber and Lyft and does not want to give up on that job if he’s not guaranteed to make the same amount or more.

There are certain people eligible to continue receiving benefits of $350/week after the Sept. 4 deadline. The North Carolina Department of Commerce has those requirements on its website.

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