As NC’s Unemployment Rate Stays Steady at Sky High 12.9%, Tillis & Burr Must Extend Bolstered Unemployment Insurance Beyond July

Tillis and Burr voted against an extra $600 for struggling North Carolinians as pandemic took hold and shut down the economy

Piedmont Rising Executive Director Casey Wilkinson released the following statement as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that North Carolina’s unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression:

“Close to 50,000 North Carolinians have contracted the coronavirus. More than 1.5 million North Carolinians have lost their job through no fault of their own. And Black communities, which have always struggled with economic inequality due to systemic racism and discrimination, have been hit especially hard. But Senator Tillis is more responsible than any other elected leader for making North Carolinians’ struggles even more difficult.

“Not only did Tillis vote against an extra $600 in unemployment benefits, but he’s also voted to put health care access out of reach for too many, including by refusing to push for an open enrollment period for uninsured North Carolinians during this pandemic. As State House Speaker, he also led the way in shrinking the state’s unemployment program so it is now one of the weakest in the country. It’s time for Tillis to push for an open enrollment period and ensure unemployment benefits are extended beyond their current expiration date in just a few weeks. It is critical that our elected officials provide assistance to ensure that all of North Carolina’s families can survive this crisis.”

Background

According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a projected 723,000 North Carolinians have lost their health insurance as a result of job losses, cuts, and furloughs. And this number keeps growing.

Black communities, which have always struggled with economic inequality due to systemic racism and discrimination, have experienced disproportionately high coronavirus infection and unemployment rates throughout this pandemic. 1 out of 3 Black families across the country reported having at least one member lose their jobs or have their pay cut.

A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found black and Hispanic workers are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, facing greater economic and health insecurity than white workers.

Thom Tillis’ record on both unemployment and health insurance have now left hundreds of thousands of North Carolinans struggling to get by in the midst of a global pandemic. Tillis’ history of restricting unemployment benefits, blocking Medicaid expansion, attempting to eliminate key public health programs, and limit access to affordable health care dates back to his time as the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives when he fought to reduce eligibility and “touted the benefit reductions.”

In March, Senators Tillis and Burr voted to stop an expansion of unemployment benefits for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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About Piedmont Rising Piedmont Rising is a 501 (c)4 issue advocacy organization built by and for North Carolinians to advocate for lower insurance premiums and prescription drug costs and to ensure that more people have access to safe and affordable health care. Through grassroots organizing, education, and engagement, we are amplifying our health care stories and holding our elected officials accountable to the people, and issues they were elected to represent. www.piedmontrising.org