According to a recently released state audit, the North Carolina Division of Employment Security overpaid nearly $690,000 in unemployment compensation last fiscal year, and made $45,000 worth of duplicate payments.
Although WRAL-TV reported that state auditor Beth Wood said she was confident North Carolina would be able to recover the funds, Forsyth Republican Senator Peter Brunstetter expressed reservations.
"Recovering overpayments from individuals who are out of a job is a virtually impossible task," he said, as quoted by the Winston-Salem Journal.
Brunstetter also noted that when the state's governor, Beverly Perdue, attempted to recover a larger overpayment "a year or two ago," the effort was quickly derailed due to the adverse reaction it provoked.
More than $1 million in overpaid unemployment benefits was revealed by recovery audits conducted in the past two years.
According to the News & Record, the errors were caused by a computer programming snafu that was overlooked for a number of months. A similar problem occurred in 2010, when the department – then called the Employment Security Commission – gave the excuse that fixing the glitch was delayed because it was focusing on implementing new benefits programs.