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Still struggling with high unemployment, North Carolina owes the federal government $2.56 billion borrowed for unemployment insurance during the recession. And the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Republican legislators have an answer for that: slash benefits to jobless people so that businesses don't have to pay higher state unemployment taxes.
Among other changes, the proposal calls for cutting the maximum benefits paid to unemployed workers from $535 a week to $350. The changes in unemployment benefits would go into effect July 1 if the proposal becomes law, although those currently receiving benefits wouldn’t be impacted. [...]

The proposal also would reduce the maximum weeks of benefits from 26 to a sliding scale of between 12 and 20 weeks, depending on the prevailing unemployment rate.

The bill has been voted out of committee and will come before the full legislature later in the month.

This is in a state with 9.1 percent unemployment. Proponents of the bill say that since it cuts the top rate of unemployment benefits, it will only hurt high-income people, but according to the National Employment Law Project's George Wentworth, it could affect people making around $52,000 a year.

These massive cuts to the amount and length of benefits will enable North Carolina to pay off its debt to the federal government in 2015 instead of 2018. By contrast, many of the people who face lower benefits for fewer weeks in a high-unemployment state may never fully recover.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:11 PM PST.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE and Daily Kos.

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