A Message from Sen. Kay Hagan

We Need to Restore Emergency Unemployment Insurance for North Carolinians

North Carolina is accustomed to standing out from the rest of the nation – for being the most military-friendly, for having the first public university and the best community college system, and for being first in flight. But today, as a result of a reckless law passed by the N.C. General Assembly, we’re also known as the first and only state to cut off federal unemployment insurance for struggling middle-class families when they need help most.

Even though our state’s unemployment rate continues to decrease, the long-term unemployment crisis –and the North Carolinians who cannot find work – should not be ignored. The most recent jobs report for our state offers troubling statistics that speak to a larger problem: many North Carolinians have given up on finding a permanent job and simply fallen out of the labor force. In fact, 8,100 people left the workforce in November alone, and over the last 12 months, North Carolina’s workforce has shrunk by 95,000 people.

Until the state acted to cut them off, federal unemployment benefits provided a lifeline for so many people who lost their jobs in a rough economy. In August, a North Carolina TV station told the story of a Lumberton woman who was ironing her clothes in preparation for a job interview when the electric company shut off her power because she couldn’t pay her bills. “It’s been excruciating,” she said, adding that she feared her landlord knocking on her door to evict her at any moment.

The state legislature irresponsibly passed a bill that slashed state benefits knowing full well that their bill violated federal law and would result in out-of-work North Carolinians losing these crucial federal benefits. I’m doing everything possible to right this wrong and remedy the damage this law has been doing since it went into effect in July. The first item on the U.S. Senate’s agenda this month is an extension of these federal unemployment benefits, and I’ve successfully included a provision in the bill to allow North Carolina to re-enter the emergency unemployment compensation program.

Despite the legislature’s actions, North Carolinians’ federal tax dollars have still been paying for unemployment benefits that go to 49 other states. Out-of-work North Carolinians, who paid into this system when they were employed, should be able to rely on the same safety net as residents in other states.

Of course, unemployment insurance only addresses the byproduct of a still-struggling economy that has not regained the jobs lost during the Great Recession. To accelerate job growth, I’m focused on commonsense measures to train unemployed workers for jobs that are available right now.

My AMERICA Works Act is a bipartisan jobs bill that would help close the skills gap and ensure our community colleges and one-stop job centers are training workers for jobs that companies are struggling to fill today. The legislation would encourage community colleges and job training centers to work with businesses to develop skills training curricula that lead to industry-recognized credentials sought by local employers.

In the meantime, as people in our state continue to struggle to get by as they seek work, we should not cut them off from federal unemployment benefits that often represent their only source of income. When the Senate reconvenes this week, I will continue fighting to right the wrong created by the General Assembly and restore a vital lifeline for so many North Carolinians.


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25 Responses to A Message from Sen. Kay Hagan

  1. Rich says:

    yo Kay… maybe jobs could be the answer……………

  2. Robert K. says:

    If the North Carolina state legislature “violated a federal law”, then can North Carolina citizens file a class action lawsuit against North Carolina to recover damages caused by this violation?

    • David says:

      I suggest that you learn the importance of “public virtue” and the role this concept played in the founding of our country.

      • Robert K. says:

        Not sure whether the suggestion to learn about “public virtue” is directed at me (Robert K.) or not. Either way, an expansion on the suggestion would be appreciated.

        If NC is the only state in the UNITED States that did not insure its position to receive federal emergency unemployment benefits, then this tells me that 49 other governors and 49 other state legislatures obviously saw some sort of virtue in this eligibility that NC failed to see -- NOT very virtuous, as I see it.

        • David says:

          Take your pick to learn about public virtue:

          North Carolina’s former governor took Obama’s stimulus money which included a mandate to extend unemployment benefits. Since NC could not cover this extension, we had to borrow it from the federal government. When the time came to pay it back, NC and several other states defaulted. Which means that small business now have an additional federal tax to pay on FUTA which is a 150% surtax on our payments.

          • Robert K. says:

            Thanks for the link.

            So, who is in a better position to help offset this debt? -- the people who have NO money to pay their mortgages, bills, food costs, etc. (who must suffer/sacrifice severely), or people who still have businesses (who must suffer/sacrifice a tad more, but not as severely as the unemployed)? Do we turn our backs on the unemployed in dire, desperate situations, or do we change the FUTA amount? Which is more virtuous for the public good?

            49 other states and 49 other state legislatures seem to establish the norm for the United States that points to the latter as the ethically correct direction to go.

          • people who still have businesses (who must suffer/sacrifice a tad more, but not as severely as the unemployed)?

            You evidently believe in Socialism.

          • Robert K. says:

            I believe in compassion, when people have no other choice. I believe in consistency in government -- 49 states that accept federal aid as opposed to ONLY one state that does not.
            I believe in the wrong of a faction of society that discriminates by ignoring standards set by the majority of society (49 states vs 1, remember). You evidently believe in elitism.

          • As I stated, you believe in Socialism. It is these United States which need to be rent asunder.

          • Robert K. says:

            Then it appears that you believe that the United States is now governed under Socialism. How else do you explain your dismissing of the fact that 49 states of the UNITED States maintain their ties to federal emergency unemployment aid, while ONLY one state, North Carolina, severs its tie to this federal funding? I thought a democracy was ideally where the majority rules -- 49 to 1 looks like a majority to me.

          • democracy

            We are a Republic.

          • David says:

            For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers successfully separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the central and state governments. More a concise statement of national principles than a detailed plan of governmental operation, the Constitution has evolved to meet the changing needs of a modern society profoundly different from the eighteenth-century world in which its creators lived.


            I think it is time to stick a pitchfork in what is left of this republic.

  3. David says:

    It appears that Robert K is under some serious misconceptions. Just because HAGan states that we are funding 49 other states’ unemployment, that does not make us the only state with this type of policy. You definitely do not want to be unemployed in Florida. Several other states have defaulted on their repayment of loans to the federal government beside North Carolina.

    As a business owner, I pay unemployment extortion to both the state and federal government. However, if my business closes, I am not eligible to file for unemployment. How is that for equality?

    Mr. K is welcome to state Socialist viewpoints. But he will eventually find that the price of Socialism is always slavery. And ignorance.

    • Robert K. says:

      Let me break it down for you, David:

      Daily, I watch a person struggling to find a job that does not appear to exist. This person recently followed a lead to another state, after thoroughly researching the company and talking to the company’s most senior leaders, only to move five hours away, and the company closed down two months later, having misrepresented themselves to attract this person, having caused this person to give up two stable jobs in NC on the representation that this company could provide a welcome career advancement.

      Now this person spends four to six hours a day looking for a job, researching internet job boards, filling out applications, following up emails, tweaking resume’s, doing everything that career counselors advise, and yet… NOTHING. There is a mortgage, a car payment, utility bills (including electricity and internet service that allows the sort of job searching people HAVE to do today), groceries, gas for the car. This person is over fifty, female, not married, no other financial resources, no health care. Even on the salary that this person was making, this person rarely eats out, rarely goes to movies, rarely has any expendable income at all above the basics of daily surviving. Now this person has NO INCOME, having been forced out of three jobs through no fault.

      The one glimmer of hope is that this person has money to buy food, while trying to juggle the creditors in such a way as to hold them off until MAYBE a job prospect comes through. But here’s a real kicker: Studies document the fact that age discrimination runs rampant today, so the likelihood of this person’s finding a job is slim -- one year to NEVER. Six or so more years until retirement, and no forseeable hope of income until then, even trying six hours a day.

      You see this. You know this. You live this every …. single … day, … in fear of your life, literally. And here you sit in the comfort of your good fortune arguing political philosophy. This person is already where you fear to be, and you vote to take away the only lifeline available. You still have a business and a vehicle to try to make life work. This person has nothing. Do you see the INequality now?

      • David says:

        You are confusing charity with Socialism. There is nothing in our Constitution that requires one man to support another man. And read the clarification of the general welfare clause in the Federalist papers before replying with this flawed interpretation of the Constitution.


        • Robert K. says:


          I am doing no such thing. I am observing grave inconsistencies between states in the manner in which these states treat their long-term unemployed.

          You are confusing the discussion here with distracting historical analogies that fail to address my specific observations. I address neither “Socialism” nor “charity” in my replies. YOU are putting those words in my mouth.

          You complain about having to follow a system to repay a state debt, when other people are complaining about NOT having anything to pay anybody, even their own basic needs.

          You talk about Florida compared to North Carolina, and, yes, that state IS on shaky grounds with its loan, but, I do not believe that I am mistaken in my observation that Florida is NOT refusing to accept federal emergency unemployment funds, if such funds are offered, whereas North Carolina has positioned itself to flat out refuse those federal funds.

          Here are the states owing the most on their loans to support their respective state unemployment programs:

          California -- $9,837,716,929.80

          New York -- $3,132,810,300.35

          North Carolina -- $1,843,623,795.45

          Ohio -- $1,552,346,347.03

          Indiana -- $1,397,305,136.40

          Ohio -- $1,552,346,347.03

          Have any of these states flat out refused federal extensions (if they happen) as part of a plan to repay those debts? Correct me, if I am wrong, but I think the answer is “NO”. These other states have not removed the the possibility of a lifeline -- they have shifted the burden from people facing outright eviction, catastrophic personal ruin, etc. to people paying a higher tax (by those people who STILL are able to pay anything).

          Are you now going to call these states socialists states within a united republic? and North Carolina the only truly republican state?, as if NC somehow has a privileged claim on true republican governance that the rest of the United States somehow does not? Are you now going to continue to tell me that 49 other states are not setting a standard that North Carolina shuns, which thus makes North Carolina MOST in tune to the practice of our founding father public virtues?

          Show me the public virtue in turning your back on a great part of the public. Show me the constitutionality in creating prejudice towards the long-term unemployed and elevating the well-being of business owners far above the well being of the common man/woman.

          I seem to recall a phrase, “government by the people, FOR the people”. Which people does this phrase apply to? -- business people? No. All people. And where all people are in the game, the game has to take account of all people in some way, as a compassionate collective that distributes grave hardships in hard times, NOT targets those hardships onto one faction.

      • She should drive a cab while looking for something better, though one can make a decent living doing so permanently, if they apply themselves. I went from the embassy in Saigon to driving a cab in San Clemente with no noticeable change in my family’s living condition.

  4. David says:

    After Robert K’s attack on Brock Townsend which I deleted, I have blacklisted him from future comments.

    • Must have been a troll and we had women drivers who did quite well. I know if I needed to work now, I’d go to Jacksonville and drive nights. Guaranteed I’d make a living. Almost 70 with no voice box, but that’s not a problem when you need work. 🙂 Anybody who “wants a job” can find one.

    • Eldonrek says:

      Not a troll, but a person very in touch with the truth. Ask your wife or your daughter or your sister to sit in a car with strangers for eight or more hours a day. The risk of crime. Come on, guys, get real.

      Anybody who wants a job most certainly CANNOT find one. This is simply wrong.

      And the form of government of the USA could be argued all day long as a distraction from the real issue here.

      But, okay, let’s look at James Madison’s expanded definition of the form of government that best describes the USA:

      “Extended Limited Commercial Federal Democratic Republic”

      • David says:

        And yet we have 30 million illegal aliens living in this country. Maybe if our corporate tax rate was not so high, companies would not relocate overseas. The form of government is not the distraction, it is the cause.

        And I can block more of your IP mask.

        • Eldonrek says:

          Hi David,

          The illegal alien problem is something that I dare say I agree with you on. This is probably, as you suggest, one of the significant contributing factors of the unemployment problem.

          Businesses have gotten a bum rap, just like the long term unemployed. It’s almost like a graded system of punishment, where we punish the people who are worse off more than we punish the people who are less worse off. This is my point.

          The MOST morally correct thing, of course, would be not to punish anybody, but good luck with that. But what I find so morally objectionable is the number of people who can say that the great suffering of of the long term unemployed in this whole mess is justified in the name of the public good, whereas the lesser suffering of business owners for the public good all of a sudden drops out of consideration.

          Should we not aim to mediate the greater suffering, rather than target it as that which, when attended to, is against the public good? Why can business owners make a claim to the public good and the long term unemployed not?

          I would hope that there are even deeper solutions that penalize NEITHER the corporations nor the individuals.

          • David says:

            You still have not addressed the root cause of the problem which is Socialism. You also did not address the issue of charity or tithes.
            Once the government addresses issues starting with the Georgetown fire, helping our fellow man becomes a form of government control.
            I believe many people who do not own businesses make much more money than I do. But you feel it is the business owner who must “pay”.
            I have gone hungry under Jimmy Carter. That experience taught me to become self-reliant as well as preparing for hard times. Like our grandparents did.
            If you are making judgments on me (or other commenters), you should know that you have no idea how much I already give to charity.

  5. Eldonrek says:

    [Robert, You still have not addressed the root cause of the problem which is Socialism.]

    I have not addressed it directly, because I do not acknowledge this directly as the topic of my discussion. I am NOT arguing political philosophy -- I am recounting real life struggles that I personally am witnessing in someone I know.

    [You also did not address the issue of charity or tithes.]

    I did not address charity, because I do not acknowledge unemployment benefits as the same sort of “charity” that you insist that it is. Tithes are for the church, and I am not talking about an insurance program as I would talk about church offerings. I believe this unfairly confuses church and state.

    [Once the government addresses issues starting with the Georgetown fire, helping our fellow man becomes a form of government control.]

    Forgive my ignorance on the Georgetown fire. As to your insistence that helping our fellow man becomes a form of government control, I would say it depends how you do it. There are some unemployed people who give other unemployed people a bad name, and, unfortunately these are the ones that skew the true nobility of the unemployment insurance program. I am not talking about your apparent stereotypical prototype lazy, no good, looking-for-hand-out parasite. I am talking about a different sort, the sort whose number has grown, the sort who drastically needs and greatly appreciates the opportunities of a little more time to dig out of a very deep hole.

    [I believe many people who do not own businesses make much more money than I do. But you feel it is the business owner who must “pay”.]

    Actually, what I really feel is that the business owner should NOT pay either. What I feel (and I hope this does not get me banned) is that the government should pay by creating jobs for more border guards, address the illegal immigration problem, address the unregistered worker problem, consider a small cut in defense spending and apply this toward defending against internal economic collapse, make it clear that discrimination against the long term unemployed will not be tolerated, make it clear that discrimination against older workers will not be tolerated, and other measures that guard the dignity of those who really need the lifeline.

    [I have gone hungry under Jimmy Carter. That experience taught me to become self-reliant as well as preparing for hard times. Like our grandparents did.]

    Admirable, but the times I see ahead will dwarf what you now call “hard”, when people will swarm food pantries in unheard of numbers, when record utility shut offs will occur, when mortgage companies will face the arduous, costly tasks of a huge volume of foreclosures, when grocery stores will see shelves more static, when crime rate will go up, when riots break out in unprecedented numbers, and a host of other events in a catastrophic chain of events this country has never seen.

    [If you are making judgments on me (or other commenters), you should know that you have no idea how much I already give to charity.]

    Again, admirable, and my “judgements” relate to the sensitivity of commentators to the humanity of their assertions, which when displayed as calloused and unconsidered, tend to bring out the worst in me. I make no final judgements on anyone here, rest assured. This is a discussion space, and it is a stage in the moment, not a certificate of one’s entire life integrity. I hope you give me the same consideration on this stage.

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