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Originally published: 2013-01-30 15:48:34
Last modified: 2013-01-30 15:48:34

North Carolina's job crisis

North Carolina is currently facing a jobs crisis. The High Country, in particular, is struggling to recover from the recession, tackling a 9.8 percent unemployment rate with more than 9,000 citizens out of work.  With the state's unemployment rate consistently above the national average, something needs to be done to encourage job growth and to get North Carolinians back to work.  

One of the most urgent priorities in this effort is fixing the crumbling unemployment insurance program in our state. With a more than $2 billion debt to the federal government, an antiquated system of integrity measures, uncoordinated re-employment programs and out-of-balance benefits structure, it is the largest single drag on job creation and retention in our state. The most integral piece of the solution is to shift the focus of the UI system from unemployment to re-employment.  

Ultimately, the system is not helping unemployed North Carolinians get back to work -- its core reason for existence. A robust worker-retraining-and-placement program is essential to establishing and maintaining a stable UI trust fund. The system should improve alignment of workforce training programs through a streamlined and increased use of technology among agencies. The best benefit is a system that returns a person to work as quickly as possible.  

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce has joined a re-employment coalition of businesses, local chambers, the North Carolina Chamber and allied business organizations to address the state's broken UI system and advocate for reforms that put the focus back on jobs. 

Let your North Carolina state representatives know that you support unemployment insurance reform. 

Dan Meyer, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce