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North Carolina legislature considers bonuses for unemployed who get jobs

North Carolina unemployment benefit recipients could get bonuses of $1,500 if they return to work soon under a measure unveiled Thursday by Republican legislators.

A Senate committee discussed but did not vote on the proposal, which is designed to get people off of unemployment benefits that are boosted by supplements from the federal government. Employers are struggling to fill job vacancies as the post-coronavirus economy is surging.

Under the measure, the supplements would be used to give $1,500 to benefit recipients who start a new job by June 1, then lowered to $800 if they begin a job by July 1, according to media reports.

“It goes against the grain to me that we got to pay people to go to work,” said Republican Sen. Tom McInnis of Richmond County. “But we don’t have a choice.”

McInnis said he recently spoke to a factory operator who may be forced to fill an upcoming order overseas if he can’t find enough workers at home. Gregg Thompson with the National Federation of Independent Business in North Carolina told committee members the idea is “unique, and something that I think will work.”

Details are subject to change, and it couldn’t be implemented without federal approval to use the supplements as bonuses. The proposal also tightens unemployment benefit rules that had been loosened over the last year.

Benefits would be eliminated if a person refused to take a job that pays at least 120 percent of the person’s state benefit, not counting the federal supplements. The unemployed also would lose benefits if they fail to make three weekly job contracts or show up for job interviews.

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