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Unemployment Help

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Update 9/15/21: Pandemic Unemployment Ends for Most North Carolinians. What now?

Pandemic-related federal unemployment ended in early September, but there are ways to improve your financial situation

What you need to know:

  • All pandemic-related unemployment through North Carolina ended September 4th.
  • About 70% of those getting unemployment no longer qualify for the assistance.
  • If you haven’t used all 13 weeks of NC state employment, you may still receive a lower unemployment amount (a maximum of $350/average of $235 a week) weekly.
  • There are more jobs available in Asheville and Buncombe than there are unemployed individuals. This means you may have more options to try a new job or find something that connects with your prior job experience.
  • Read more about the change in NC unemployment.

What now?

  • Call 2-1-1 for medical care, food assistance, housing needs, childcare needs and any other community needs you may have. They are a great referral resource for local non-profits!
  • Get assistance for housing and utility costs if you’re still unemployed. As mentioned in a previous digest, there is money left in multiple housing assistance programs (Hope Program, the housing program through the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], and Eblen Charities). Read our 9/2/21 digest post.
  • Apply for public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. You can find out more about these programs and how to apply by visiting DHHS’s website.
  • Improve your skills and look for work. The NC Works Career Center is a good place to start. They offer an online job search, training for new skills, and information on planning your career.
  • Job search online on websites such as: Indeed.comZip Recruiter, or more local job boards like Mountain Xpress.
  • Need childcare to be able to work? Buncombe County Partnership for Children has some great referral resources, information about vouchers, and a map of all licensed childcare centers in Buncombe County.
  • Contact OnTrack WNC if you need help with your budget or want to know your debt options.

Update: 6/25/20 - NC Unemployment Process

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

Contact Information and Getting Started

The fastest and most efficient way to apply for unemployment benefits is to create an account and file online at des.nc.gov. If you don't have access to a computer or need assistance, they can be reached by phone at the following numbers:

  • General phone number: 888-737-0259
  • Pandemic assistance line: 866-847-7209
  • To file an appeal: 919-707-1060
  • The office is open 7 days a week, including Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.
  • Due to the high volume of calls related to COVID-19, you may experience a long wait time. 

The NC Division of Employment Security says that people typically receive payment within 14 days of filing their initial claim.

Taxes on Unemployment

Unemployment benefits are taxable income, and you may owe a lot in taxes next year if you don’t have taxes taken out of each check now. You can ask to have taxes withheld from your payments when you apply for benefits. You can only request that 10% of each payment be withheld from your unemployment benefits for federal income taxes.


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