Today, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 15, comprehensive legislation requested by the Division of Employment Security (DES). In addition to debt repayment, the Division (under the capable leadership of Assistant Secretary Dale Folwell) has become known for reforming agency protocol to institute more efficient and customer-friendly service and dramatically improving customer response rates.
Senate Bill 15 suspends a 20% surcharge for the calendar year 2016 if the Unemployment Insurance Fund comes in at $1 billion by March 1, 2016. Hitting this expected target will generate over $240 million in savings to employers and employees in 2016. The current balance of the UI Trust Fund sits at $748,750,000.
All of this is in stark contrast to the time, just a few years back, when North Carolina’s Unemployment Insurance Fund was $2.75 billion in the hole. More on how that huge mess got cleaned up here.
“Not only will this law deliver massive savings for employers and their employees, but it also shores up the reserve fund to $1 billion. This reserve will provide a source to fund interest payments on necessary federal advances so the State does not have to dip into the General Fund,” said Speaker Tim Moore. “Reforming the Unemployment Insurance Law allows us to both prepare for tough times and suspend a burdensome surcharge on businesses.”
To receive Unemployment benefits, a claimant must be actively searching for work; additionally, the legislation increases the number of job contacts a person must make each week from two to five. And to create an audit trail (to help prevent fraud) the legislation also requires a valid photo identification to receive benefits and authorizes the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to disclose Social Security Numbers to DES for the purpose of verifying employer and claimant identity.