STATEMENT: To Protect Jobless Workers, Our Leaders Must Extend Benefits

A joint statement from the NC Justice Center and the NC State AFL-CIO calling on federal lawmakers to ensure access to emergency benefits

RALEIGH (December 13, 2013) — To protect more than 1 million workers across the country – including tens of thousands of people here in North Carolina – Congress must ensure access to federal extended unemployment benefits.

In North Carolina, where federal unemployment benefits ended in July, and across the country, where federal benefits stop at the end of the year, workers are struggling with an economy that has too few jobs. On July 1, 2013, 170,000 North Carolinians who were unemployed through no fault of their own lost access to federal emergency benefits.

Not only did this shortsighted and irresponsible move hurt families across our state, it prevented federal dollars from flowing into North Carolina, further undermining our already troubled job market. Our state has seen firsthand the damage of losing emergency federal unemployment benefits in just a few short months: families are struggling to stay in their homes, put food on the table, and get to their next job interview.

Now, as part of federal budget negotiations, lawmakers are discussing extending the federal emergency program past December 31, 2013. They must do so to benefit jobless workers across the country – and protect our fragile economic recovery.

The best economic evidence indicates that providing a safety net for jobless workers is the right thing to do for workers and for economic health. When people get laid off, consumer spending decreases. This harms local businesses, impedes job growth, and creates a vicious cycle of austerity.

We are hopeful that common sense will prevail, and that leaders here in North Carolina and nationally will do right by unemployed workers. Extending federal emergency benefits is the best way to protect people who are out of work — and to make sure they get back to work as well.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Jeff Shaw, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615,; Jeremy Sprinkle, AFL-CIO, 919.833.6678,