$438 million in unemployment claims not paid on time in North Carolina, according to state auditors. | Local


Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in a statement accompanying the audit that she agreed with the auditors’ assessments.

Sanders said the division has taken steps to address issues with payment delays to prepare for future overwhelming demand for claims processing.

Wave of demands

From March 2020 to March 2021, the division received approximately 3.5 million unemployment assistance claims from approximately 1.5 million claimants.

Some people had to file a second claim — after being found ineligible for initial state benefits — in order to qualify for federal benefits that often include extended state benefits.

Prior to the pandemic, initial weekly claims for state unemployment insurance were typically in the low four-digit range.

According to the audit, federal labor regulations require states to ensure that at least 87% of first benefit payments are paid to unemployment insurance claimants within 14 days in states where the waiting period is a week, like North Carolina.

In response to the pandemic, the 14-day requirement has been removed for weeks ending April 4, 2020 through September 4, 2021.

“However, the requirement to ensure that at least 87% of first benefit payments have been made within 14 days has not been waived,” according to the report.


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