STATEWIDE -- Thousands of laid-off North Carolinians are about to take a major cut, or even lose their long-term state unemployment benefits.
Starting July 1, a new law passed by the legislature to reduce state debt will take effect.
Wayne Bostick lost his job at the ConAgra warehouse two years ago. Since then, he's been receiving $497 per week in state unemployment, but that's about to change.
"I will be receiving zero dollars from the state unemployment," said Bostick.
He's among 70,000 unemployed North Carolinians who will lose their state benefits after being out of work for more than six months. The new law will cut the maximum state benefit by roughly one-third. Because of the reduction, the federal government will no longer allow North Carolinians to access the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which can extend benefits to the unemployed by up to 37 weeks.
"When people don't have funds coming into the home, you might as well be one paycheck away from being out on the streets," said Bostick.
Those unemployed for less than six months will still receive their state benefits, and laid-off workers in every other state will get the federal funds through the end of the year, or longer if Congress extends the program. But people in North Carolina will be forced to make ends meet without relying on unemployment money.
"I'll just have to do some handyman work until a 9-5 job comes through," said Bostick.
Bostick said he has already spoken at one Moral Monday protest, and he plans to keep going back, hoping to bring about change.
"Why aren't the legislatures trying to bring jobs into North Carolina that can't help us with our living wages? Why aren't they doing that?" said Bostick.
A report by the Budget and Tax Center estimates that North Carolina will lose $600 million in federal benefits due to the state cuts. An additional 100,000 people are expected to lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the year when they have been out of work for more than six months.