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Unemployment Numbers Pressure States

High jobless rates in North and South Carolina are stressing the staff and funding of unemployment benefits. With 32 percent more people collecting unemployment in North Carolina this year compared to last, the state is wrestling with a backlog of thousands of unemployment benefits applications in need of closer review. A State Employment Commission spokesman says staffers are working overtime to whittle that list down and adds that most people are getting their payments without delay. In South Carolina, Employment Security Commissioner Ted Halley says the state's fund for paying unemployment claims will go broke by January. "We're paying out about $10 million a week," says Halley. "Normally we pay between five and six million a week, but it's been constantly creeping up over the last year and a half. And with the high unemployment rates, we continue to pay out a heckuva lot more money than we're taking in." Halley says South Carolina has applied for a federal loan to help pay unemployment benefits until the economy improves. Officials in North Carolina say their unemployment fund is still in good shape.