Federal unemployment benefits expire for North Carolinians

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thousands of jobless North Carolinians who depended on federal unemployment lost their benefits Saturday as the Delta variant tightens its grip on the economy.

These additional pandemic-era benefits were put in place by the $2 trillion CARES Act to address the economic fallout of the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

Restaurant owners are hoping that it will get more people working again.

"You have these bigger chains like Wal-Mart and Target that are going to sit here and pay kids my age and older like $15 an hour where we can't necessarily do that," said Hailey Hernandez, whose father Randy owns Casa Cubana, Red Monkey among other Triangle restaurants.

She is having to come to help and drive back from college because it's been so difficult to hire staff.

"It's definitely really hard to find people who really want to come out and work," she said. "It takes a toll on everyone here and at all these other small businesses our there."

Mid-August data shows more than 100,000 people were receiving unemployment benefits.

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Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation will end the week of Sept. 4.



North Carolinians will still be able to file for and collect regular unemployment which provides up to 13 weeks of benefits in a year period with a maximum weekly payment of $350.

"It would definitely help if something were to happen to get people to come and work, I'm more than sure during the holidays the number will go up, just as of right now it's not happening," Hailey said.

Ken Yowell, the owner of the Meatball Shoppe in downtown Raleigh said it's hard to think about coming back to work at a restaurant when you know you'll be the first to close in another COVID shutdown.

Yowell said restaurants were already operating at razor-thin margins making it hard for independent owners to pay wages and benefits workers deserve.

To qualify for regular unemployment benefits, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own and actively seeking work.
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