Putting The Un In Unemployed

The current unemployment rate for the United States is 9.1%.  That’s not as high as it’s ever been, but it’s definitely on the high end of the spectrum and higher than it has been in quite some time.  Some people blame the recession and the layoffs that came with it.  Some people say the rate is high because new jobs aren’t being created.  Others say that the jobs are there but employers are refusing to hire new employees, leaving positions unfilled and people out of work.  I’ve also heard that the stock market is to blame.  Surprisingly, the one place I haven’t seen blame laid is on the unemployed themselves.

The problem I see is that some people are simply happy to collect unemployment benefits and/or live off of family members or friends.  This blogger points out ways that our government makes it easy to remain unemployed and profit from it.  There are countless articles and blogs dedicated to the amazing perks of remaining among the jobless; you get to sleep late, eat breakfast every day, spend early afternoons in the park, and take up a new hobby.  Your family will become closer due to the time spent together, and maybe you can start your own business, possibly selling on eBay or maybe at one of those Work At Home websites.  It’s great… except for the fact that you don’t have a job.

I understand completely that there are a good number of unemployed folk out there who are working their tails off to try to find work and who refuse to give up hope.  I also know that sadly, the majority has gone the opposite route and is seeking ways to be happily unemployed rather than continue to seek for work.  When I worked for a chiropractic office, we had a lot of turn over in our marketing department and with our massage therapists.  Every single one of them filed for unemployment after being terminated and about 2/3rds earned unemployment compensation, approximately 20 people.  What was stopping them from getting another job and bouncing back?  Why did they feel the need to immediately file for unemployment after termination?

The problem isn’t that there isn’t a single job out there available, the problem is that the unemployed person doesn’t want the job that’s available.  When I chose to leave the chiropractic office, I started with a new company the very next day.  When that company didn’t work out for me, I immediately scored an interview with another.  After a week of actual unemployment, I landed in the job that I currently hold.  I always had the back up plan of going back to waiting tables if nothing panned out, but thankfully I didn’t have to.  The short-term job I held was definitely NOT something I wanted to do, but it was a job.  When you’re out on your ass, you take what you can get and keep actively searching for something better.  I’ve been part of the work force since I turned 16 and in the 14 years I’ve held jobs, I’ve never had an issue finding a job or been forced into unemployment because I couldn’t find work.  The jobs are there, they are always there, you just have to search hard and sometimes lower your standards a bit.

I don’t believe that 95% of the people receiving unemployment should be getting it.  The only valid reasons I can think of for earning it are reasons associated with workers compensation or employer misconduct, and that becomes a separate legal issue.  Unemployment wages are funded by the company, who pays 6.2% to 5.4% of the first $7,000 of the employee’s wages per year into a fund that pays for unemployment.  Once that is paid, the employer pays a very small percentage with a dollar maximum before they are done for the year.  It’s not a lot.  This site claims that this money is paid back to the employee when they file for unemployment and this is an excellent reason for every person who is laid off should take advantage of unemployment benefits since the money has been set aside for them for this very situation.

Surely I’m not the only one who looks at that and thinks it’s a load of crap.  EVERY person should “take advantage” of this?  Why, so they can get comfortable and file to receive Extended Benefits from their state once they exhaust the funds from their company, or any one of the other federally funded programs that are in place to take over once the regular unemployment benefits are over?  The percentage the employer pays should be reserved for people who actually DESERVE unemployment, and NOT those who whine because it’s too hard to find a new job.  Not for those who consider themselves above flipping burgers and bussing tables and want the benefits over a less than desirable job, and not for those who are just plain lazy.  Saying it’s too hard or blaming the economy is nothing more than an excuse and a way for people to feel justified in staying home and collecting a paycheck for doing close to nothing.

Obviously, I’m highly against unemployment.  If you’re reading this and you’re collecting or know someone who is, I’m pretty confident that I can find reasons why you or your buddy shouldn’t be doing so.  If you’re a special case, obviously this isn’t about you.  All I’m saying is that good things don’t come to those who wait, and nothing comes to the guy sending out the minimum amount of applications required to keep his unemployment checks coming.  Except for free money, that is.  But what good does it do?  What are you accomplishing?  What does it do to your self-worth to sit there knowing that you’re getting money you haven’t earned because you’re too sad and pathetic to find a job?

When I was getting tired of the position I’m currently in, I started throwing my resume out there.  I don’t have a degree or overly impressive job experience, but my resume looks pristine and highly professional.  I received half a dozen calls for interviews from legitimate companies over the span of a week.  Thankfully, I didn’t need it because I found a new employer within the same building, but it proves that with time and effort and care about the way you sell yourself to a potential employer, you can find work.  In the meantime, get yourself a “for now” job, something to tide you over while you’re on the hunt for something more permanent.  NONE OF US are above dropping fries at Burger King or straightening racks of clothes at Marshalls.  Be an adult and quit treating unemployment benefits like Mom and federal funding like Dad.  Hand out time needs to end.  It’s time for everyone to being to stand on their own two feet, own their situation, and accept responsibility for either making it better or falling on your face.  The only person who dictates your success or failure is you.

About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on September 28, 2011, in Money, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Well. I collected all of my 99 weeks of unemployment and I don’t feel ONE BIT BAD about it. Here’s why.

    1. I have been working steadily since I was 14.
    2. I have had some pretty high earning jobs (I managed departments of 3-10 people), where I also paid the top tier in taxes because I am single with no dependents. (can’t deduct anything, so you pay more)
    3. I pay a high property/school tax even though I have no kids that use the schools.
    4. My layoff in late ’08 was because my company closed it’s office, NOT due to anything I did. In fact, I had just been given a nice $5000 a year raise 6 months before they decided to close.
    5. I never stopped hunting for a new job.
    6. When unemployment ran out, there still was no job other than part time.

    When I first got laid off, I hunted like mad. In the past, it had always been easy to get another job. But this was the beginning of the Crash of Wall Street. NO PLACE was hiring. When this became apparent, I went back to school, finished my degree, and started on a master’s degree (because I was told I was not qualified to have the type of job I had only 1 year prior!!!).

    I admit, there were a few months in there where I simply didn’t bother looking because there was nothing to apply for! However, I also made the rounds of the low-end jobs: Walmart, Target, ToysRUs, grocery stores, mall stores, car lots, and the local pizza shop. All rejected me as being “OVERQUALIFIED” (i.e. TOO OLD) and some even told me that to my face.

    I luckily got a part time job at my college, which paid $7.55/hour. I made so little that I still got my full unemployment rate (yes you MUST report any income). It was the ONLY place that would hire me in TWO YEARS! Then unemployment ran out. I still worked the part time job, but made less then $400 a month. I’ve been barely surviving like this for almost a year now, filling in gaps with some contract/freelance jobs that enable you to survive for a few more months. If not for the unemployment and my mom giving me a bit of money to help, I would’ve been on the street, living out of my car!

    At this time I am still looking and interviewing for a full time position, while working another 12 week contract gig, which makes me ineligible to file if you get 1099’d. Unemployment is a lifesaver to many. Sure, like anything, there are some who abuse it. They should crack down on that, but I would never suggest they do away with it.

    As for the people who worked at your office: Unemployment run quarterly. They had to have worked at least 6 months (I think, but it varies) and earned over a certain amount in that time to qualify. It is not automatic or guaranteed that they get it, so they must have worked long enough.

    • In no way am I for doing away with it, but the system is seriously flawed. It’s not a crutch to be used by those who are too lazy or who don’t care enough to find work, nor it is something we should feel that we’re entitled to. Personally, I would rather live in a dump and work my ass off than be given a hand out (and yes, I’ve done it because I couldn’t find high paying work), and that is because I don’t feel that there is any point in my life that I’ve needed it. Sure, I could have filed and I would have gotten it; I actually went to an office to file and decided against it after seeing some of the folk down there. I decided against it and vowed never to do so because I don’t need it. There are people out there who truly do, and although it’s not much help, I’d like to think that the money that could have been wasted on me ended up going to someone who was truly and honestly in need.

      • How about Private Unemployment Insurance (PUI)?

        We have insurance for our health, life, cars, homes, jewelry, against floods, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes…why not against unemployment?

        It would be pretty simple.

        You pay “x” amount based on the terms of the policy you choose, i.e., how much you want to receive and over what length of time. Obviously the more of either, the more costly the monthly premium. The premium would be pre-tax, and it could be invested by you into some pre-selected options much like an IRA or 401(k).

        Like life insurance, PUI might also offer a cash-out option for a certain percentage of what you paid into it, after a certain length of time if you didn’t use it, or felt like you didn’t need it anymore.

        You would also be able to take out a low-interest loan against it if you got in trouble and needed a short term loan to close the gap. You would pay it back to “yourself” through the PUI much like you’d pay back a 401(k) loan.

        Additionally, your employer could offer to pay into your PUI much like they match 401(k) payments (the Big Gov requirement that companies pay this to THEM should be removed) with employers competing on the percentage as part of their benefit package to attract talented employees.

        Then when you needed it, it would be paid out to you in installments over the period of your policy (adjusted for the return on your investments) and the payments would be NON-taxable. So in essence, you are getting your own money back plus the earnings that it made as an investment and what your employer(s) paid into it.

        And like car accidents or building in flood plains, repeated claims would drive up your premiums. This would discourage people from touching their PUI unless they absolutely needed it, and staying on it for as short a time as possible to make sure their future PUI premiums would remain low, or at least not rise as much.

        Few or no claims would reduce your premium. Premium reductions would also be based on what level of education you have, your job history, your industry, what you do for a living, and probably a credit score.

        This would all encourage people to go to school for jobs that actually exist in the real world and to maintain a healthy personal balance sheet – which in turn would help inoculate the individual from being laid off, or at least limit it, as well as encourage them to have their financial house in order to prevent a lay-off from wiping them out.

        • This is an amazing idea! The downside is that I have zero faith that this would ever happen. The idea is great, but the people who could turn it into reality are seriously flawed. But who knows, maybe someday this will be an avenue that can be explored.

  2. Great post. Thought I’d share some stories as well. Long comment, but maybe some will find it entertaining, maddening, and frustrating at the same time.

    I know someone very well who was a Canadian that had just gotten her citizenship through marriage and moved to Southern California maybe a year before she got laid off. She had about $40,000 in the bank at the time, money she had saved in Canada and brought with her.

    Without touching any of her own money, she took three months off to party, then went to Canada to visit family for about four months – while in Canada she got a job (while still having her husband (also on unemployment) in the U.S. cash her unemployment checks and send the money to her) thereby almost doubling her income, and let’s not forget that at the time the exchange rate was well in her favor.

    Her and her husband proceeded to travel to Europe and sent me pictures of them in Amsterdam buying weed, then in front of the Berlin Wall, the Eiffel Tower and the Canals in Venice…which I viewed on my computer at work. O, the irony.

    A friend of a friend that I know well lost her job. She went on unemployment. Proceeded to spend the next 99 weeks living off of unemployment while; camping, rock climbing, paying for Bikram Yoga three times a week, having regular facials to prevent pimples, and lap swimming several times a week. She then proceeded to travel and visit Australia and New Zealand.

    She then worked for a start-up company that paid its employees strictly in stock. She only took the job to kill time and precisely because it did not pay in cash, so it was not reported to the government thus making sure the unemployment checks continued to role in.

    Over the next several months upon her return, she was offered no less than three normal-paying jobs. They were all “beneath” her and she turned them down happily enjoying her unemployment vacation. On her 99th week + about 2 days, she was hired at another company doing what she used to do before she was laid off. It took her TWO DAYS to find a replacement job.

    She owns a cabin (from inheritance) in Big Bear, CA – a resort town, and owns most of her condominium in Southern California. She also has a nice amount of cash savings. She kept all her houses and her own cash while on vacation.

    She just leached off of all of us until her vacation was over. Her own savings, her own standard of living, all remained completely untouched.

    My mom recently went on unemployment having been laid off. She is over 70 years old and still working. When she called the Unemployment Office, they told her she would receive a deposit on a debit card they are sending her but every week she has to call in and answer some questions about her job searching.

    The government employee that is tasked with protecting the tax money taken from us told her, “There are ten questions, answer ‘Yes’ to the first five, ‘No’ to the next four and ‘Yes’ to the last one.” So there you have it, the government is actually teaching people how to fraud the taxpayer by teaching them how to answer the questions, even if it’s a lie, so the money keeps flowing.

    Big Government in action. Get everyone feeding at the taxpayer-funded government trough and the politicians can create any form of government they want. None of which will be a free Republic of and for the people.

    • *head exploded*

      These are the kind of people (with the exception of your mother) that irritate the life out of me!! Sometimes I feel as though I’m the crazy one here because I seem to be among the minority that actually thinks this is wrong. Just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

      Thanks for the comment, it did make me chuckle prior to the brain hemorrhage it caused. 😉

  3. Completely agree that the people needed to make this happen aren’t up to the task.

    When I talk to people or friends, this is one of the biggest hurdles….they think the way “it is” is the only way it can be. They think the guys upstairs at the White House and in Congress have already “done did some heavy thunking” and the way it is now is the best way for it to be. Nobody stops, thinks for themselves, and realizes there are a lot better ways in the private sector to do what the government does for us today.

    It’s so hard to deprogram someone. It takes so much time. They are so used to being told from grade school on that government has all the answers and knows what’s best for everyone, that to re-educate them that people always respond to incentives in their own best personal self-interest and that means that government, by design, has the singular self-interested purpose of creating ever MORE government.

    To grow government is simple. Create class warfare by raising taxes on the rich (few voters) and never tax the poor or the lower middle class (HUGE number of voters). Increase current social programs while creating new ones. Get everyone dependent on government subsidies and gifts (unemployment, housing credits, WIC, welfare, cash-for-clunkers, solar panel subsidies, etc…) paid for my sucking out all the money from the economy (also known as the money the “rich” put back into the economy through investments because after all, that is how the rich get richer, it’s not like they sit on the money in a shoebox under their bed) and promise no taxes to the masses in exchange for their vote.

    With this plan, in just a generation or two, America will move from a free Republic based on freedom and personal independence where you can be whatever you want, do whatever you want, or make as much as you want to a tyrannical socialist state discouraging independence and trading personal freedom and greatness for non-exceptionalism and massive entitlement, where everyone is a slave to everyone else, much like France or Spain.

    It’s so, so, so easy and we are almost there.

    So to make my PUI a reality, that would require that government politicians and employees want to do the opposite of human nature…that they would want to decrease the size of government, potentially reducing their salaries and benefits, or even eliminating their own jobs…and that’s just absurd. Why would anyone do that? PUI requires the elimination of government funded unemployment insurance and makes people responsible for their own actions and rely on themselves, when expanding government adamantly requires the opposite, that everyone rely on government instead.

    Politicians and employees in government are not on some humanitarian mission. They are out there to make as much money as they can, just like everyone else. The sooner everyone wraps their minds around this and breaks out of their primary education coma, the sooner they will realize how dangerous government is and the inevitable outcome.

    “I has a sad” – love it.

  4. I hate to tell you this AWC, but America is NOT free and has not been for some time. It is now almost completely controlled by Big Corporate interests and is a plutarchy.

    Class warfare? Oh the poor rich! They have been running everything, and gaining more control since the 80’s and taking and taking and taking from the working classes while using their money to buy political influence and alter the law. But what I find even more insidious is they way they twist “religion” and the “moral right” into believing they should give up things like their Social Security that they’ve paid into all their lives.

    • I agree that America is quite a bit less free than it used to be. I would say our freedom began slipping away starting with the day FDR birthed The New Deal and its been accelerating ever since. That was when the Ponzi scheme we love to hate called Social Security was foisted upon us.

      Ever since then the people of this country have been encouraging the government to expand by supporting any politician that wants to create ever more social welfare systems and regulations to create preferred classes of citizens that will vote for them to keep the handouts coming and everyone looking to government to save us from everything, but they never ask who will pay for it. We have aggressively supported the creation and expansion of a monolithic nanny state.

      In order to work inside this bastardized form of capitalism, what’s left of it anyway, corporations have learned to play the “get along to go along” game just like the Republicans. They routinely lobby for government protections, tariffs, subsidies, etc… And once one does it, they all have to do it to stay competitive. The politicians of course learned quickly to support this gravy train and now we have a circular system feeding on itself where the politicians and the corporations are indistinguishable from each other as the base of the power that controls the country.

      There is a great book called, “I Am John Galt” that talks about companies that have opted out of this corruption and why, why Microsoft hasn’t advanced since Bill Gates left when the government went after his company for “monopolizing,” and the ways in which government has corrupted corporate America. Not because corporate America is naturally corrupt, but because government intervention into the free-market and its abusive regulation have created the need for corporations to play this game just to survive.

      So yes, the wealthy corporations are part of the problem, but the source of that problem still boils back down to government intervention and expansion. If we had a true free-market capitalistic system, the corporations would not have the power they have today, power the politicians give them in return for their allegiance and their funding.

      So getting angry at the corporations and blaming them is not going to be very productive. The politicians happily point to Wall Street and the Corporations to deflect our anger, and the Corporations are happy to take the heat. The Politicians and the Corporations just wink at each other over cocktails and the money keeps flowing and the government keeps expanding.

      Government, not corporations are STILL the real problem.

      As far as Social Security. Well, lets see…we’ve been borrowing from it since almost its inception to pay down the deficit to make our out-of-control spending look only slightly less out-of-control. Now the account is empty and we’re running deficits in that account so we can’t even borrow from it if we wanted to. So again, government is what put us in this mess since they stole all the money to hide their debt spending. How is this the evil Corporations fault again?

      As part of “X Gen” I was told back in grade school that SS would not be there for me. I don’t count on it, never have and I hate paying into it. I will never see it, and all I am doing is paying for someone who is currently retired because all of their money was stolen by the politicians. Now, do I want them to get their money back? They should, certainly, but from where? And what about me? I’ve been paying into it for years but I have always assumed I will never see it again. Is that fair? So you think I should get my money back too, right? So from where? From who? How?

      Everyone likes to say, “We need to make sure people who paid into it get their money back” but there is no money in that account. It was stolen. So where do you propose that money should come from? Don’t just say “it should be done” and then not offer a solution. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place. People saying “do this” and “do that” but never offering up how, or why, or with what money and from who.

      So if you want them to get their money back, where do you want it to come from? How do you propose to fix the Social Security problem. Let’s talk about the details. Look forward to your reply.

      • Jamie C. Baker

        I agree that harboring anger towards corporations isn’t the most productive use of time. They do what they do because they CAN. Until that power is taken away from them, they’ll continue to abuse it.

        When I was old enough to get a real job and had to leave my days of babysitting and dog walking behind, I was introduced to the wonderful thing that is Social Security. I’ve been unhappily paying it for 14 years and like you, I have no hope of ever seeing that money come back to me. My husband and I have begun putting money back every paycheck so that when retirement comes, we don’t have to worry about where our money will come from. When I had my son, I learned that I can’t rely on the government for financial support; as a then single mother, my son was on Medicaid and I looked into child care assistance and housing assistance since I received no help from his father, and that research showed me many ways the system is flawed. I’m very curious to see if Missdisplaced or anyone can offer a solution to the Social Security mess or any of the other countless problems with the various systems that are meant to help U.S. citizens.

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