Is it better to stay unemployed?

To take a temp job or not to take a temp job, that is the question.

The Christian Science Monitor published a story on Tuesday about the difficult choice for the unemployed to either find work or stay unemployed.  If someone decides to get a part-time job, then they will lose their unemployed benefits based on a recalculating system that is used.  The impression that the unemployed has is that they’re better off being unemployed than pick up part-time work.

An example of how states recalculate the amount of benefits you can receive is displayed here:

Connecticut’s formula for part-time workers is to take two-thirds of their gross salary (in her case $130 a week, which is $87) and subtract that amount from $39, which would be her weekly benefit based on the part-time job. This gives her a negative $48, or no benefit at all.

It has been said in numerous networking circles that if your unemployment benefits is about to expire, you can continue to call in and your benefits will be extended while you are finding full-time work.  So, should you call in your part-time earnings for fear of losing your unemployment benefit all together?

The thought of telling someone who is seeking work that it’s better not to get part-time work and sit at home is a blow to the psyche to those who want to get back on their feet.  Currently, the number of full-time jobs are at a premium, and yet a number of part-time jobs are popping up.  The part-time work may not help cover most things, but mentally, it gives people a self-esteem boost.  It puts them back on their feet and doing something.

You may have to think twice before taking that part-time gig at your nearby coffeehouse.

What do those who are unemployed and seeking work feel about this story?  Do you think it’s unfair that you could lose any or all of your unemployment if you take a 3-hour barista gig at Java Joe’s twice a week?

I’m sure that my friend, Suzanne Hull, who runs Unemployed in Des Moines, will offer her opinion and give some tips on how to deal with this situation if it happens to you.

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4 thoughts on “Is it better to stay unemployed?

  1. Joe and Charlie, this is great insight about how to work with unemployment benefits. Here in Iowa, benefits can be extended if anyone works part-time. It is perplexing to me on why would other states would not consider doing the same that Iowa is doing. If someone works part-time and should that end, the state should not cut them off completely from receiving their unemployment, simply because a person extended it.

  2. Joe’s got the right idea about volunteering. I’d add that volunteering gives us the opportunity to learn and practice new skills.

    I’ll have to look into whether 1099 income doesn’t reduce benefits. Thanks for the idea.

  3. I tackled a part-time job in December as a UPS drivers Helper. (another job I don’t want to do when I grow up.) I wanted to pick up a little extra money and extend my unemployment benefits. If my gross pay were less than my unemployment, I would be ahead about $97. But once my gross part-time pay was over my benefit, I got no unemployment. And since my gross pay was slightly over the limit, after taxes came out, I had a net loss in funds. But at least I did extend my benefits a week.

    From now on I’m only going to do freelance work and get paid through a 1099. That income does not impact your benefits. Now if I can just find the work!

    I am also doing volunteer work through the Greater Des Moines Partnership. No pay, but at least I doing some productive work and getting out of the house, meeting interesting people.

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