President's weekly unemployment extension met with mixed reactions by North Carolinians

Sunday, August 9, 2020
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More than 1.2 million North Carolinians have filed for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, some will be relying on benefits that were recently reduced by $200.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- More than 1.2 million North Carolinians have filed for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the state Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security.

Morrisville resident Cynthia Newton receives unemployment benefits and said she supports the President's executive order, which extends benefits but reduces them from $600 to $400 a week.

"I applaud the President in pushing forward and signing an executive order to get it in place, even if it is $200 less," Newton said. "I knew from the get-go that that was a benefit that would not last forever and it was definitely helpful. Losing $200 is not going to be a huge impact. I mean, it definitely is going to help to have the $400."

RELATED: COVID-19 executive orders: A breakdown of Trump's actions on $400 weekly unemployment boost, evictions, student loans, payroll taxes

But a spokesperson for the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) said the president's executive orders do not provide direct relief for schools.

NCAE organized a car caravan protest in front of the Raleigh office of Republican Senator Thom Tillis Saturday urging he help pass the Heroes Act, which includes billions of dollars from Washington to help with the costs of reopening schools.

"It is past time for Senate action to address the reality of this crisis," said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. "Senator Tillis knows this yet he has remained silent. It is time for him to step up and fight for the children of North Carolina."

The office of Senator Tillis sent ABC11 a statement saying in part: "Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi's partisan bill is a far-left wish list that contains big spending on things that have nothing to do with COVID, including taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants and huge tax breaks for millionaires in New York and California."

His office said he strongly supports funding for local schools in the next stimulus package.

Newton is a vendor in marketing for healthcare. She was laid off before the pandemic and has been looking for work since.

"There are lots of folks on unemployment and looking for jobs so it's definitely making the job market a lot more competitive for the few jobs that are out there," Newton said. "So my concern would be how long we would be able to receive benefits."