Everything Carolinians need to know about the stimulus payments, unemployment

The Senate and House passed a historic $2 trillion stimulus bill aimed at helping Americans impacted during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill now goes to President Trump to sign it into law.

The economic relief bill will send help to big and small businesses, health care facilities and those who have lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. That is the most in American history as unemployment rates reached historic levels.

The number of North Carolinians filing for state unemployment benefits soared as expected last week, another economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to a U.S. Labor Department report released Thursday, North Carolina had 93,587 initial claims filed in the week that ended March 21.

There were just 3,533 initial claims in the week that ended March 14.

At the height of the Great Recession, the N.C. Division of Employment Security reviewed and processed as many as 100,000 claims in one month.

From March 16 to 5 p.m. Thursday, the division processed 210,475 claims, of which 88% of applicants said their permanent or temporary loss of job and/or reduction in wages was related to COVID-19’s impact on their employment.

The number of claims for Wednesday alone was 29,018, followed by 14,814 on Thursday.

South Carolina’s unemployment figures were released by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

In the week ending March 21, there were 31,054 unemployment claims filed in the state. That’s an increase of approximately 1600% from the previous week’s count of 1,996.

This means that there were 31,054 individuals who both live and work in the state of South Carolina who filed an initial claim during that week.

We’ve put together everything you need to know about the stimulus bill, unemployment and more:

The Stimulus Bill

How much money will people be getting from the stimulus bill?

The bill would give one-time direct payments to Americans — $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

The amount of the payments will be based on income reported in 2018 taxes -- or your 2019 taxes if you have already filed them. The amount of the payment will decline gradually, beginning with individuals who made more than $75,000, or married couples who filed jointly who made $150,000.

Payments will phase out at a rate of $5 per every additional $100 in income over $75,000 in adjusted gross income for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.

The checks will be directly deposited into bank accounts if you included direct deposit information on your tax form. If you did not, your check will be mailed to you. A date of April 6 had been floated, but many think it may be mid-April or May before the money goes out.

When will I get the money?

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said you’ll have your money within three weeks from when President Trump signs the bill.

Is there just one payment?

Right now, there is only one payment planned. But future bills could offer additional payments, the White House said Wednesday.

Do you have to apply to receive a payment?

No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it would transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has, according to the New York Times.

To get the money to people who don’t usually file tax returns, the IRS may have to request that information from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs. In 2008, those people were required to file a return anyway in order to get their rebate, according to CNN.

Unemployment in North Carolina

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order sought to remove barriers so employees harmed financially by closings in commerce due to COVID-19 restrictions to obtain unemployment benefits.

Many of those directives mentioned, however, already are taking effect due to a state law passed in 2017 addressing federal disasters. The changes include eliminating the one-week waiting period after a job loss to apply for benefits, as well as the requirement to apply in person. Displaced workers also won't have to be actively looking for a new job, as is required for traditional benefits, and employers who must lay off workers won't be financially responsible for the benefits their workers receive.

“These changes are designed to lessen the hit on our economy and workers’ wallets,” the governor said. “The new reality is that people will be losing jobs and businesses have lost customers.”

Application details:

While Cooper said he also expects action on unemployment benefits from the federal government, North Carolina stands in good fiscal shape on that front with $3.8 billion in the state’s jobless benefit reserve. The state’s maximum benefit is $350 per week.

Unemployment in South Carolina

In the first week of economic disruption from the coronavirus, more than 31,000 people said they lost their jobs in South Carolina.

The state Thursday released unemployment claims for the week ending March 21, and the 31,054 claims were almost the same number of jobless claims filed over the first 11 weeks of 2020 combined, including a big spike after the temporary jobs created around Christmas.

If all the unemployment claims made last week in South Carolina were approved, the number of people without a job in South Carolina would climb 55% from the January unemployment figures when the state Department of Employment and Workforce reported about 56,500 people out of work and a jobless rate of 2.4%.

Application details:

  • Visit this website to apply
  • Contact 866-831-1724 for any Unemployment Insurance-related questions

Student Loans

If you have a federal student loan, you can apply for a deferment or a forbearance at any time. Both of these postpone payments temporarily but interest still accrues on some loans with deferment and all with forbearance.

Now, federal loan borrowers can seek an emergency administrative forbearance, which would allow them to postpone payments for up to 60 days. Borrowers must contact a servicer to apply. The postponement is automatically applied for borrowers more than 31 days late on payments. Interest will not be added to the balance at the end of the forbearance period.

Switching to an income-driven repayment plan may be a good option for some borrowers, said Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert and publisher of website Savingforcollege.com. If you’ve been laid off or your hours were greatly reduced, the payment can be lowered to zero.

The federal government also lowered the interest rate on all federally held student loans to 0% for an indefinite period. However, that will not lower the size of the monthly payment; instead, it will apply the payment entirely to the principle of the loan.

If you have private student loans, contact your servicer for their options.

Loans to small businesses

About $367 billion will go to loans for small businesses, administered through the Small Business Administration.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.