Bill granting bonuses to returning workers from NC approved by Senate
Giving bonuses to North Carolina unemployment benefit recipients who get a job soon would help both businesses struggling to fill vacancies and residents who need a boost to get back to work. Republican lawmakers said Tuesday.
The state Senate voted 35-10 for legislation that would provide $ 1,500 to people who accept re-employment within 30 days of starting the bonus program. The bonus would drop to $ 800 if they start working 30 days after but before 60 days.
The premiums are said to come from federal funds that increased individual unemployment benefits by $ 300 per week during the COVID-19 pandemic. But one-off payments won’t happen unless the US Department of Labor allows the state to use the money that way. This can only happen if Congress first passes its own law authorizing such use, said Sen. Chuck Edwards, Henderson County Republican and main proponent of the bill.
Edwards said he was concerned that additional benefits on top of state payments would discourage people from returning to work at a time when the economy is poised to expand as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and employers cannot attract candidates.
“I’m not going to analyze the precise cause and effect, but let’s face it, it’s easier not to work than it is to work,” Edwards said. “I think there is a percentage of the population that has gotten comfortable and lost the habit of looking for a job … and it’s going to take something to energize them.”
The bill now goes to the House, which has not yet voted on such a measure.
U.S. Representative Ted Budd, RN.C., who attended a Legislative Building press conference with Edwards on Tuesday, introduced a bill in Congress that would offer bonuses of $ 900 nationwide to displaced workers who are hired. Unlike Edwards’ Bill, the extra weekly benefits would also be removed at the same time as part of Budd’s Bill. These benefits must already expire at the beginning of September.
Budd, who is also a Republican candidate for the US Senate in 2022, said displaced workers have many job options to earn more than before COVID-19.
“We understand the hardships people have had,” Budd said. “But nothing replaces the dignity of real work and self-improvement to gain more opportunities.”
About half of the states already deny benefits of $ 300 per week. Edwards said Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper had shown no interest in doing the same, which led to the Senate GOP’s bonus proposal. Cooper has reinstated job search requirements.
Edwards’ bill, which also places additional job interview requirements on current beneficiaries, was passed by the chamber after GOP members blocked votes on two Democratic amendments. The maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits and the maximum weekly payment would have been increased. The other would have increased the state’s minimum wage from $ 7.25 an hour to $ 15.