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North Carolina unemployment rises, there's a push to increase benefits for those out of work

Guilford County's January 2023 unemployment rate was 4.1%, up from December

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper is calling for the largest unemployment benefits increase in more than a decade.

According to Forbes, North Carolina has one of the lowest benefits in the country.

The governor's proposal is just that a proposal. It still must go to the General Assembly where it's expected to face tough opposition.

In the meantime, staff in the Triad are trying to get more people back to work after the state's unemployment rates went up last month.

Guilford County's unemployment rate is about 4%. Neighboring counties, Forsyth and Alamance are both at 3.7%  on track with the state's unemployment rate. 

When an unemployment check hits an account in Alamance County, expect a call from Lisa Arnette.

She's Alamance County's NCWorks career center manager. 

“Some weeks we're reaching 20 to 30 people a week,” Arnette said. “We call them and intervene and make sure they know about us and understand our services.”

Those services include free access to their career center, workshops for resume building, interview prep and direct access to local employers.

“This Wednesday we're having a large job fair here from 1 to 3 pm. We'll have 18 employers inside the building,” Arnette said. “They're all ready to hire.”

Unfilled job openings are why state legislative leaders are critical of Governor Roy Cooper's budget plan to increase unemployment benefits.

Cooper's proposal would boost the current maximum weekly payment of $350  to $450 and the minimum weekly payment from $15 to $100. Increases are tied to inflation.

People could also receive them for a longer period of time, but the goal is still to get people back to work as fast as possible.

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Posted by GuilfordWorks on Thursday, March 2, 2023

Melissa Smith with Guilford Works said they're getting creative and hosting an info session Tuesday for employers on how to fill their job openings with folks who were once incarcerated. 

“We are highlighting three companies Triad Goodwill, Occupancy Heroes and Mountainair that have successfully implemented reentry models,” Smith said.

They're also using virtual reality at their NextGen location in downtown Greensboro to train and get young adults job placements.

Creating a win-win situation for job seekers and employers. 

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