What to do with unemployment?
North Carolinians who lose their jobs since July 1, 2013 only have a short amount of time to find one before their unemployment benefits run out.
Twelve weeks to be exact.
That's due to a new law passed by the General Assembly during its 2013 session which, not only shortened the amount of time benefits could be collected, but also reduced the amount of money those benefits would pay out.
The result has been a lowering of unemployment across the state but some of that — if not most of it — can be attributed to people not collecting unemployment, not finding a job, thus not being counted.
All of this is so the state could pay back debt to the federal government quicker.
A move in the U.S. Senate may bring some help to the quandary.
Sen. Kay Hagan, R-N.C., is proposing making the state's unemployed eligible for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) as part of a larger unemployment benefits expansion bill being taken up by the Senate this week.
Those who lost their job since July are not able to collect federal emergency benefits. According to Hagan's office, 170,000 in the state lost out on those benefits.
One caveat to the bill is the state would have to voluntarily opt into the EUC in order for the unemployed to receive the federal compensation. That is all provided Hagan's provision passes both houses of Congress.
While there is little anyone can do to reverse the state's decision to remove 14 weeks of unemployment insurance compensation or the lowering of the weekly amount of that compensation, considering this opt-in may help those in the state that need it the most.
It won't be equal to what those out of work were making while in the workforce but it would be better than what they are receiving now which is close to nothing.
It's not about people taking advantage of the system, collecting a state and federal paycheck so they don't have to work.
It is about helping those who can't help themselves.
In Rutherford County there are still over 2,000 people without jobs and while we are seeing some jobs open in the county, there is not enough for everyone out of work.
Most of these people have families with mouths to feed, mortgages and bills. None of that stops because someone is out of a job.
Bringing the state back into the fold for federal EUC would provide some relief to those who have been without since last year.
We would encourage state leaders to consider opting in to the EUC if Hagan's provision prevails on the federal level.
Our state government owes it to the residents of North Carolina to do what it can to help those less fortunate.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Alex Moore, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark