Being a hard-working tax payer, I’ve had my opinions about unemployment benefits. People complain about the government being too easy on the unemployed and at the same time they complain things are too hard. Having recently transitioned to a period of unemployment, I’ve found myself extremely frustrated. Both complaints are valid. Unemployment should not be nearly this easy or hard.
Filing for unemployment would have been pretty easy if I wasn’t such a dunce. A few of the questions stumped me and all internet research told me I could also file in person. However, after driving to the employment office and standing in line, I discovered that is no longer the case. I think the state of Illinois needs to make some updates to its websites. Gas is a precious commodity right now!
The part of unemployment that really gets at me though is just how they determine the money you get each week. My understanding is that it’s based off your last salary. It has me wondering if that’s really the right way to go about this. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciate the gesture. I have rent and student loans to pay. If I had to eminently vacate my home, sell all my stuff and find a new place to live, I wouldn’t have a lot of time to search for jobs. Being between jobs is taxing enough. Still, say someone with a six digit salary gets laid off. Will they be getting thousands of dollars each week to maintain their current lifestyle? Is that really the best use of our tax dollars?
I claim the world is not made of extremes, but those two options are clearly extreme. People shouldn’t be condemned to poverty when they’re laid off any more than they should live in luxury off tax payer money.
Here we face another issue that I’m not sure our society is prepared to answer. I feel like we’d have to reject a world where poverty was an accepted necessity. Our system is set up for there to be winners and losers. The ‘losers’ of our economic system live in poverty.
To me, an acceptable standard of living for unemployment benefits would equal lower middle class. For some people, that would mark a huge fall in their income, for others a huge increase. Anyone who wasn’t already living at a lower middle class level will complain. This is why I think the ‘lowest’ people in our society will have to living at a lower middle class level before this particular issue can be completely solved. I’d much rather Mr. and Mrs. Six-Figure-Salary get thousands of dollars in unemployment if it means I can still pay my rent and loans while I look for a new opportunity.
The amount of money people get on unemployment doesn’t concern me as much as much as the requirements to maintain unemployment benefits. At my old job, we’d sometimes get a random person walk in and ask if there were any open positions. This was usually followed by a request for a business card. My boss would always remark that they were probably just trying to prove they were looking for a job in order to keep their unemployment benefits.
Now I know why.
There’s a form you fill out called the Work Search Record. It appears they want you to apply for a minimum of five jobs per week. In order to prove really did apply, they ask for the contact date, the name and address of contact, the person contacted, the method of contact, they type of work sought and the results. How is a person ever supposed to collect all that information for every single job. When applying for national companies, you don’t always know the exact address or even the name of the person you are contacting. I can guarantee most applications won’t result in anything after only a week’s time.
I’ve certainly got phone calls to make. Maybe I will join the people knocking on random business doors and asking for business cards if only to have all that information for at least five places.
I understand that unemployment isn’t suppose to be easy. People need to prove they are really looking, but it seems to me this is doing the exact opposite. Requiring so much forces people to spend time collecting business cards from businesses they don’t care about when they could be applying for real jobs.
I write this post more frustrated than I usually am. This issue is closer to many than most I write about. Still, as always, I have no answers. How much should people get from unemployment? Is it fair to base it off salary? How should the government require people to prove they’ve been actively perusing jobs?
The world has more questions than answers, my friends.