NC able to keep up with unemployment?

RALEIGH Now there are new concerns about the state being able to keep up with a soaring demand for unemployment benefits.

Last month when President Barack Obama signed the Worker Assistance Act into law, it was supposed to provide up to 20 weeks of additional benefits to those who have been hit the hardest by the recession.

But while other states have already started to process those new benefits, people in North Carolina still want to know where their money is.

According to the ESC, more than 70,000 North Carolinians who previously exhausted their benefits could qualify.

"What we are doing in North Carolina is we are moving folks who we know are eligible for these programs incrementally onto those programs, as we implement," said David Clegg with the ESC.

But implementation is the problem. The commission admits it has to make significant changes to the computer systems. Some could take six weeks.

"We're doing all we can to make sure people get paid as soon as possible," ESC Chairman Moses Carey said.

The commission tells ABC11 Eyewitness News very few states have transitioned quickly, partly because of a complex tiered benefit system put in place by the federal government.

It adds a week to tier two benefits, then creates a third and fourth tier, totaling 19 weeks.

But they have to go in order and North Carolina is still stuck at the end of tier two.

"I understand that folks are frustrated, I'm frustrated," Clegg said. I wish it was cleaner. I wish it was easier and more administratively efficient to do.

The ESC says letters will be sent to everyone who qualifies for the extension and everyone will eventually get a lump sum payment for the money they are owed.

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