NORTH CAROLINA, USA — Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would cut off federal pandemic jobless benefits, which means those who are out of work because of the pandemic will continue to receive $300 a week in benefits.
But as more people get vaccinated and COVID-19 cases drop, some employers claim the bonus is preventing workers from coming back.
At Queen City Craft and Gourmet, they can't quite get back to normal. While the customers are coming back, not all the workers are.
"We are limited hours, were closed on Tuesdays, we're not open Monday Wednesday, Thursday-- for lunch," owner Charles Read said.
Read has nearly 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He says he's never seen anything like this.
"When people come in and ask me, how are you doing? I say we're fighting, and it's tough," Read said.
Even more tough for Read, news that the $300 dollar a week unemployment benefit will continue in North Carolina till September. He believes it's one of the reasons he can't get applications.
"Were competing with the government," Read said.
The Workers' Rights Project says a little over 250,000 North Carolinians are still depending on that relief. Several other states including South Carolina have already pulled the plug on pandemic unemployment relief.
Read wishes the Tar Heel state would do the same, in hopes that it would bring more people back to work. But for now, he will continue fighting to get back to normal.
"I'm optimist things are going to get better and better but this was definitely a step backward," Read said.
Governor Cooper made the following statement on SB 116 saying, "Unemployment is declining with more people getting vaccinated and into the workforce as North Carolina has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits. The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country. Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these."
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