The U.S. Labor Department is entering the debate at the North Carolina General Assembly about the state unemployment insurance program overhaul that could be on Gov. Pat McCrory's desk this week.
Acting Secretary Seth Harris said Monday that 170,000 people would lose or miss $780 million in federal emergency unemployment benefits if the bill becomes law. That's because Congress passed a bill last month that extended the benefits for a year to states unless they changed their payment structure.
The North Carolina legislation would cut maximum weekly benefits by one-third, scale back maximum benefit weeks and raise taxes on business to accelerate repaying $2.5 billion owed the federal government.
Harris said families would "suffer a grievous blow" by the bill, which will be debated by the full Senate on Tuesday.