North Carolinians face long wait for unemployment benefits

A graph from the N.C. Department of Commerce shows the number of unemployment insurance claims submitted daily from March 15 through Sunday. (DEC graphic)

MOREHEAD CITY — Many businesses have closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, leading to layoffs and former staff applying for unemployment.

But many say they’ve waited more than a month for needed benefits.

Kerri Grilliot of Statesville in Iredell County said she first applied March 29.

Ms. Grilliot worked for Daimler Truck North America but was laid off due to the outbreak and its effect on the supply chain. She briefly returned to work April 27 but was laid off a second time May 1.

“We (the company’s employees) still don’t know of our return date,” Ms. Grilliot told the News-Times. “About 1,300 people have been laid off all these weeks and applied for unemployment insurance at the same time. Only about half of those people have received their money from unemployment.”

Ms. Grilliot said DaimlerTrucks officials told her they’ve done what’s required for her to receive unemployment. Daily calls and regular emails to an N.C. Division of Employment Securityunemployment office have resulted in messages that there are “too many people” in the queue and to “call back later,” according to Ms. Grilliot.

Since mid-March, unemployment insurance claim filings have been in the tens of thousands every day. According to the state Department of Commerce, as of Monday 487,654 North Carolinians have been paid $1.44 billion in unemployment insurance since March 15.

Department data show daily claim filings were 10,000 to 30,000 from mid-March through mid-April. They spiked April 24 at 54,495, then dropped to 32,446 April 25.

DEC data show that from March 15 through Sunday, 1,112,790 unemployment insurance claims have been filed in North Carolina.

In Carteret County, from March 1-31, the most recent county data available, 1,962 claims were filed, of which 1,674 were related to COVID-19. 

Those numbersdo not include those who’ve had problems filing claims.

“I feel bad for people who don’t have savings and haven’t received their stimulus (payments),” Ms. Grilliot said. “This is so sad; it shouldn’t take over a month to receive unemployment insurance.”

She isn’t the only one who claims to have had a long wait.

In the comments on an April 13 Carolina News Journal article republished by the News-Times, reader “Lewilson” said  they applied March 26 and have yet to receive a payment.

“I’ve called and written the Gov [sic] but no response,” the reader wrote. “It’s frustrating because they call center staff have no ideas what’s going on.”

Reader “BobbieKay” said they filed at the beginning of April after being furloughed from a job and chose the “reduced hours” option on theapplication, instead of “laid off.”

“Ever since filing my application, my claim has been placed in ‘Issues Delaying Payment – Pending Resolution,’” the reader wrote. “I received notification of the ‘Weekly Benefit Amount’ but no real resolution of what I will be receiving.”

The News-Times contacted the N.C. Department of Commerce for comment. However, no one was available before presstime.

More information on the state response to the coronavirus outbreak is available online at nc.gov/covid19.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt. 

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