Our Changing State | Beaufort County Now | North Carolina, like the nation, is facing three crises: COVID-19, racial strife and the economy. | my spin tom campbell, coronavirus, covid-19, racial strife, economy, july 22, 2020

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Our Changing State

Tom Campbell
    North Carolina, like the nation, is facing three crises: COVID-19, racial strife and the economy. Everyone wants to return to the way things were before the virus, but that's not going to happen.

    Few were prepared for the coronavirus and the shutdown of businesses. Most have reopened, but many cannot or have chosen not to do so. Even those that reopened report their revenues haven't revived; the public doesn't yet feel safe in shopping, eating or visiting.

    There are some bright spots. Last week we learned North Carolina's unemployment rate dropped from May's 12.7 to 7.6 percent in June. We added 173,000 jobs but still have 340,000 fewer jobs than one year ago, when the unemployment rate was almost half what it is now. The employment picture will improve, but very slowly.

    Many changes will become permanent. Both workers and employers discovered that working from home might not be as productive as being together on site, but they could function relatively well. Companies discovered they don't need nearly so much office space, so vacancy rates will increase as leases expire. Workers learned it doesn't matter where they work and can choose where they want to live. Expect to see relocations as workers seek less expensive housing, less congestion and closer communities.

    If shoppers weren't already accustomed to online purchasing, they developed the habit quickly, buying everything from groceries, clothing, and meals online, through delivery or takeout. Many won't return to brick and mortar stores.

    Instead of traveling long distances we now Zoom, Facetime or Skype, saving both time and money. Many are wary of cramped seating, recirculated air and inconvenient air travel and passenger numbers have dropped precipitously. American Airlines reported they are furloughing 2,600 employees in our state. Airlines, along with many other businesses, received government loans which required them to retain their employees, but that requirement expires September 30th. Furloughs begin October 1. Large numbers of us, tired of being confined, are rediscovering and visiting our many state resorts and parks. Our travel habits have likely changed permanently.

    There are two additional factors adding to our state's economic woes. Approximately 600,000 unemployed North Carolinians have been cushioned from economic calamity by the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit but it expires July 31, and our Congress is embroiled in such divisive political arguments we don't look for its continuance, at least anytime soon.

    Our state's unemployment insurance program adds insult to displaced workers. Ours is frequently described as the stingiest in the nation. In 2013 the legislature drastically cut the benefits. Prior to the new law the unemployed could receive as much as $535 in weekly benefits (average of $275) for a period of up to 20 weeks. The new law cut the maximum to $350 and the benefit period to 13 weeks. We have some $3 billion in the state's unemployment trust fund to help the unemployed, but our legislators are unwilling to increase benefits.

    Make no mistake: The loss of these benefits will reverberate throughout our economy as the unemployed can't pay their bills and another layer of economic problems result.

    All changes don't have to be bad. Many innovations have come from hard times. North Carolinians are a resilient people who have encountered and overcome adversity in the past. We might discover new products, services and benefits. We can be hopeful.

    Publisher's note: Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina State Treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN, a weekly statewide television discussion of NC issues that airs on UNC-TV main channel Fridays at 7:30pm, Sundays 12:30pm and UNC North Carolina Channel Fridays at 10:00pm, Saturdays at 4:00pm and Sundays at 10:00am. Contact Tom at NC Spin.


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Emily Jashinsky of the Federalist focuses on the mainstream media’s key role in misleading people about Georgia’s new voting law.
The North Carolina Republican Party hired Jason Simmons as the new Executive Director.
Two bills sitting on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk are designed to remediate learning losses for K-12 students left behind by classroom closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, rapper DMX has died at the age of 50 after being hospitalized and on life support for one week following a heart attack.
Editors at National Review Online explain why Democrats in Congress should drop one of their bad ideas.
Public school teachers in North Carolina receive an average annual salary of $53,392 for the current school year, according to the latest figures from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.


The University of Notre Dame joined a growing list of universities that are requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus for classes in the fall.
Most people are generally aware that the Chinese are attempting to take over the United States in a variety of different ways, most of which are economic and military.
We will offer this allotment of three with more to come; some old, most new, but all quite informative, and, moreover, necessary to understanding that in North Carolina, there is a wiser path to govern ourselves and our People.
Judicial Watch today released a transcript of the March 24 oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging a lower court ruling upholding the secrecy of controversial secretly-issued congressional subpoenas
At this time, by their every action, word and eventual deed of the Leftist Socialist non patriots, it is fully clear that this 2020 General Election was a coordinated effort to defraud the non Socialist electorate by colluding with multiple interested parties to create The Big Cheat of 2020.


Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday, April 9, signed two bills into law designed to help students who lost more than a year of in-person learning because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.


Back to Top