Thursday, September 2, 2021

Treasurer Folwell Asks Gov. Cooper Not to Use CARES Money to Extend Extra Unemployment Benefits Employment Crisis is as Real as COVID-19

Sep 2, 2021

(Raleigh, N.C.) – Additional federal unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire on Sept. 6, as the pandemic emergency employment compensation and pandemic unemployment assistance programs are ending. These programs are paying an additional $300 a week to eligible unemployment applicants. Many feel that the extra payments are preventing people from returning to work. In fact, a majority of states have already ended the extra benefit for workers prior to the programs’ termination next week.

During the August meeting of the North Carolina Council of State (COS), Gov. Roy Cooper indicated that he will not support providing additional extended unemployment benefits when they expire. The Governor’s statement came after State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, and other members of the COS spoke about the employment crisis and the devastating impact the extended benefits are having on employers across the state.

“I’m asking the governor to follow through on his pledge not to extend unemployment benefits,” Treasurer Folwell said. “We’re in an employment crisis. Businesses are struggling to find workers, forcing them to cut back on their hours and even having to close on some days. The policy is no longer about compassion, but the practical realities of the needs of businesses. The jobs are there. At the end of the day, employers across the state cannot operate without employees. And the state itself is the largest employer.”

The Biden Administration has indicated that it feels it is “appropriate” to let the extended programs end this month. However, they said that some states should consider using some of the $350 billion in funds allocated to state and local governments from various COVID-related appropriations to continue paying the enhanced benefits.

“Whatever the source of funding, letting these extended benefits expire is the best thing we could do to help employers get reopened,” said Treasurer Folwell. “I get calls every day from small businesses saying they can’t get people to work because it’s more profitable for them to stay home. They can’t compete against the federal government. And the workers that show up are paying taxes so the others can stay home.”

The North Carolina Department of State Treasurer (DST) administers the employee retirement systems for more than 950,000 public workers, along with their 401(k), 457 and 403(b) plans. DST manages the pension plans’ investments currently totaling nearly $123 billion. It also oversees the State Health Plan, which provides health care coverage to more than 750,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, and their dependents. Fiscal assistance and expertise are provided by the department to local governmental units by aiding them in the sale of local government debt obligations and in maintaining sound budgeting, accounting and reporting procedures. The department also administers the NC Cash unclaimed property database.

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