The U.S. unemployment system was already broken. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit

Issues with unemployment insurance abounded before coronavirus. But the pandemic has shone a spotlight on weaknesses in the systems that have become impossible to overlook as record numbers of people try to access benefits each week.

News Story (NATIONAL, North Carolina)

Alicia Adamczyk
October 8, 2020

Tags: COVID-19, Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Employment Law Project (NY)


“It always takes a recession for people to understand what’s been going on in unemployment,” Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, tells CNBC Make It. “For 10 years, states have been gutting unemployment insurance systems and benefits, and no one noticed. And that’s one of the big reasons that the system responded so poorly this time.”

That’s not to say DES isn’t doing all that it can to get benefits out. “I would definitely add that they have done much better during the pandemic than I would have expected,” says Evermore, noting that Governor Cooper issued one of the most expansive executive orders at the beginning of the pandemic to make it easier to get benefits.

“They’ve done as good a job at that as could be expected, given what they had to work with,” she adds.