Unemployment rates have reached some of the highest in recent history. The Federal Government extended a lifeline in the form of unemployment benefits, but even that could end up being more hurt than help.
A program that started as a temporary assistance for those who lost their job (through no fault of their own) has turned into a nightmare that makes many participants unemployable.
Employers are looking for workers with consistent work histories. The applicant that has recently graduated from college will make the right impression with high grades, solid class schedule and part time work filling in the gaps. The applicant that has been in the work force for years shows this consistency in a word history that grows and has few, and even thin small, gaps.
The Trap of Unemployment
- Unemployment benefits encourage workers to pass on jobs that would bring in less income than the unemployment check. Most people are already struggling to make ends meet. Cutting income even more just seems like wasted effort. Unemployed workers choose to remain unemployed to get more income.
- Unemployment reveals a level of inconsistency. To the unemployed worker, the strategy makes perfect sense. The employer may not ever hear the why behind the gaps. Employers will choose applicants with sound work histories over those with large gaps.
- Unemployment develops negative habits that are reinforced through the unemployment insurance checks. Do one thing for 21 days and it will become a habit. Workers stay on unemployment benefits will quickly pass the 21 day mark and may soon find they have (or even longer if benefits are extended) developed a habit of not getting up and preparing for work.
- Unemployment benefits allow people to forgo the hard choices. There are a number of jobs that people do not necessarily WANT to take, but if push came to shove they COULD do the work. Getting a regular paycheck from the government helps ensure that those tough decisions never get made.
- Unemployment benefits create a circle of unemployment. A worker hits a hard time and files for unemployment. The jobs available pay less than the unemployment check so the person continues to look for a suitable job. The unemployment benefits continue and so does the search. The gaps in employment make employers question the dependability of the worker who gets passed over for the better job and can only find work that pays less than the unemployment check.
- Long-term unemployment takes workers out of the technological loop. Things are changing so fast in many work places. The level of technology that is used for ordinary jobs (including copying and printing) can be overwhelming to workers that have missed out on the technology expansion for the last year. Employers look for workers that are already caught up so that precious time and resources do not have to be spent educating the worker.
Everyone needs help now and then. Benefits for unemployment equal only about 36% of the income that was being made before the loss of employment. The family budget has enough trouble trying to remain balanced after a cut that deep. The thought of taking pay that may amount to even less can seem unbearable and even unwise to many of the people out looking for ways to overcome the unemployment benefits gap.
The concept behind unemployment insurance reveals a big-hearted government, and a society, that does not want to see others suffer. The biggest problem with the extended unemployment benefits may that that it creates a cycle of unemployment that may seem impossible for people to escape.