Lynn Bonner’s Sept. 3 news article, “Low-paid, jobless see no joy on Labor Day” discussed the recent cuts to unemployment insurance benefits in North Carolina and included Sen. Bob Rucho’s assurance that unemployed workers whose benefits run out can simply turn to assistance programs like food stamps for help.
Unfortunately, Rucho is confusing the purpose of two very different programs and, in so doing, is providing a false sense that those who fall off the unemployment insurance cliff will have a safety net to catch them.
Unemployment insurance is an insurance program, not a government assistance program, created to provide temporary, partial wage replacement so that unemployed workers in states like North Carolina – where there are three jobseekers for every available job – can pay their bills. Food stamps is a crucial support for low-income North Carolinians but can be used only to purchase food, which might not help when you lose your house because you can’t pay your mortgage.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that there is a proposal floating around Congress to gut the modest support that food stamps do provide.