The Division of Employment Security is responsible for the administration of the unemployment insurance program in the state of North Carolina. This program is a federal-state partnership and is funded by federal and state unemployment taxes employers pay on employee wages. Benefits are paid to eligible workers who lose their job through no fault of their own and are able, available and actively seeking work.

2020-2022 DES Biennial Report








View the 2020-2022 report.

View the 2018-2020 report.

What We Do

The North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security (DES) is responsible for the administration of the unemployment insurance program in the State of North Carolina. State unemployment insurance benefits are paid to eligible workers who lose employment through no fault of their own and are able and available for work and actively seeking work. The state unemployment insurance program is a federal-state partnership, and benefits are funded by state unemployment taxes employers pay on employee wages. DES’ administrative costs are federally funded and based on the state’s claims workload. The division receives no administrative funding from North Carolina’s General Fund. Among its duties, DES is required to:

  • Take initial claims for unemployment benefits.
  • Determine claimants’ eligibility for benefits.
  • Provide an appeal opportunity for claimants and employers.
  • Collect quarterly state unemployment taxes and wage records from employers.

Program Units

Tab/Accordion Items

The Adjudication Unit is responsible for making initial determinations for unemployment claims. Adjudicators gather and review claim information and use North Carolina's Employment Security Law to make determinations regarding an individual's separation from employment. Adjudicators also make first-level decisions regarding an individual's continued eligibility for benefits based on weekly filing requirements.

The Appeals Section conducts quasi-judicial evidentiary hearings on contested claims for unemployment insurance benefits. Appeals hearings in the Appeals Section are conducted by appeals referees who preside over hearings and issue decisions that contain findings of fact and conclusions of law. Most appeals to initial agency determinations are heard by appeals referees in the Appeals Section. Most of the appeals heard in the Appeals Section are appeals of determinations made in the Adjudication Unit regarding unemployment insurance claims. Appeals referees also conduct hearings on appeals of overpayments, denials of employer requests for noncharging, claim withdrawals and other special programs. In addition to appeals referees, the Appeals Section is staffed by a chief appeals referee, two deputy chief appeals referees and administrative staff who support all aspects of the appeals process.

The Benefits Integrity Unit is responsible for detecting, establishing and recouping improperly paid unemployment insurance funds. Benefits Integrity is comprised of investigators, adjudicators, and National Directory of New Hire , recovery and overpayment specialists who work to strengthen the integrity of North Carolina's unemployment insurance program. Questions about how to repay an overpayment can be found on the overpayment section of our website.

The North Carolina Board of Review was created by the General Assembly in 2011 and began operating in January 2014. The Board of Review is an independent, quasi-judicial body charged with deciding second-level Higher Authority Appeals regarding unemployment benefits; determining initial disputes between DES and employers regarding unemployment tax liability; determining claims where DES is the employer; and determining unemployment benefits during labor disputes.  

The Board of Review is composed of three members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. One member is classified as a representative for employees, one member as a representative for employers and one member as a representative for the general public. The member appointed as representative of the general public serves as chair of the board and must be a licensed attorney in North Carolina. Members serve staggered four-year terms.    

The Customer Call Center is the first point of contact for claimants. The CCC answers calls and emails, assists with the intake of claims and provides information on unemployment insurance benefits. It also houses the the Employer Call Center, which provides support to employers.

The Communications Office is responsible for educating the public, North Carolina legislators and DES employees about the unemployment insurance program and the Division of Employment Security.

Laura Leonard
Communications Director

Larry Parker
Digital Media Manager

Also, anyone may submit a formal request to see public records from the agency by contacting the Communications Office. Members of the media may send requests to des.pio@nccommerce.com or call (984) 236-5992.

The Department of Commerce's Office of Human Resources works to provide North Carolina's citizens with a diverse and talented workforce. HR professionals are responsible for administering the Division of Employment Security systems and programs for employment and recruiting, employee development, job classification and compensation, benefits, safety, workers' compensation, performance management and compliance, and employee relations/EEO.

HR's focus is to deliver valuable, innovative and compliant services that:

  •  Attract highly qualified individuals;
  •  Develop, reward and retain a diverse and talented workforce;
  •  Foster a productive work environment where people feel valued;
  •  Support the changing nature of work and the workplace environment;
  •  Fully support DES's goals, vision and mission; and
  •  Is fair, ethical and legally compliant.

DES's team of HR professionals takes a consultative approach to provide responsive, appropriate guidance and support to strengthen the various HR-related areas of focus.

The Legal Services Section is headed by a chief counsel. Approximately eight attorneys advise and represent the agency’s senior and executive managers. Attorneys work on a variety of matters, including advising management on unemployment law issues; employment laws about discrimination and harassment; drafting legislation, administrative rules, and policies; drafting and reviewing contracts; responding to requests for release of information; issuing and responding to subpoenas; negotiating settlements and offers for compromise; fraud matters; bankruptcy matters; and conducting training for managers, tax auditors, fraud investigators and appeals referees. 

Attorneys represent the agency in North Carolina’s state and federal courts, and in administrative proceedings before the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Attorneys also represent DES in administrative hearings involving unemployment insurance tax appeals before the North Carolina Department of Commerce Board of Review. 

DES's legal staff can answer questions about procedures but cannot give you legal advice. If you need legal advice or representation, you should contact a legal aid organization, such as Legal Aid of North Carolina, or a private attorney. The State Bar of North Carolina can help you find an attorney.

The Tax Administration Section is responsible for collecting tax and wage information from employers on a quarterly or annual basis. This is achieved through the submission of the NCUI-101 Report along with a payment (if required) from employers who are liable for unemployment insurance taxes under North Carolina law. A percentage of the money collected from employers is used to pay unemployment benefits. In addition to this function, DES must protect the integrity of employers' accounts by ensuring that accurate information is obtained. To accomplish this, DES performs audits through random selection of employers' records. If discrepancies are discovered, adjustments must be made to employers' accounts to maintain program integrity. Additionally, the audit process may reveal understated or overstated liability, thus, resulting in the collection  or refunding of additional monies to employers.