Work requirements reinstated as thousands draw unemployment benefits in NC


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Right now, people collecting unemployment benefits will have to prove they’re applying for at least three jobs a week.

Some people agree with that but say it will take more effort from the state and business owners before they can take down their now hiring signs.

The rules have been reinstated for people still looking for a job. They’re now required to show proof that they’re searching for one. This wasn’t the case during the pandemic.

Roy Belk agrees with the decision put in place by Governor Roy Cooper. He says he realizes the difficulties with finding a job right now and hopes the system is not being abused.

“That’s a good idea,” Belk said. “If you can draw unemployment it helps you if you are really in need, but you shouldn’t take advantage of the situation. Some people don’t want to work, they want to try to get an easy way out.”

Right now, efforts to get people off unemployment are underway at the statehouse. Senators passed a bill that would give people who are unemployed up to $1,500 for securing a new job. A $1,500 signing bonus would be given for accepting reemployment before June 1 and $800 to those employed before July 1.

The bill still has to make its way through the house where it’s expected to be discussed this week.

Jeff Hienar says the efforts need to expand a little more. He says business owners and the state will have to raise their wages if they want to get people back to work. Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

“You’re not going to get anybody to work for $7.25 and having people apply for jobs is one thing that doesn’t mean they have to take the job,” Hienar said.

Companies like McDonald’s, KFC, and Amazon have raised their wages or added perks as things get back to normal.

Meantime, more than 245,000 people are still collecting benefits in the state along with the extra $300 in benefits from the federal government.

“Even Target now hires like, $15 an hour for a cashier,” Hienar said. “So if everybody can pay that, it would make a lot more sense. And if your business model is structured around your employees only making that much money, then your business model sucks, fix it.”

Cooper says unemployment benefits have been a critical lifeline for North Carolinians during the pandemic but the state wants people to stay connected to employers, tools, and resources that can help with that. You can go to NCWORKS.GOV to set up an account or search for a job. You can click here for more information about what’s now required.

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