Collecting Unemployment vs. Collecting a Paycheck

For the past several years the labor market has held many opportunities for workers in all fields and with all levels of skills and experience.  Often referred to as an “employee’s market”, since the end of the Great Recession companies have been hiring at a rapid pace and motivated workers could be selective about the jobs they chose.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the booming employment market has screeched to a near halt, where the only work available is for workers at essential businesses or those with jobs that are able to be performed remotely.  For many out of work, the solution has been receiving unemployment benefits.  With the CARES Act, weekly unemployment benefits were increased to assist families struggling with the financial impact of this crisis.

Making the decision to file a claim for unemployment benefits can be a difficult one for many people, even with the additional benefit included in the CARES Act.  But in the long run, benefits associated with choosing a job can outweigh the short-term gain of unemployment.  There are a few things everyone should consider regarding working vs. collecting unemployment.

  • Think big picture.  We have always stressed the importance of looking beyond today and thinking about  “the big picture.”  Envision what you want your career to look like in a few years, and how choices you make now might affect that vision.  Passing up an opportunity to work now could close some doors down the road that otherwise might have been open.
  • Beat the competition.  Everything must come to an end eventually.  That means not only will your unemployment benefits eventually end, but the current state of the economy will end too.  If you have ever searched for a job during a competitive labor market, you know how frustrating it can be to find a steady, well-paying job.  Right now there is less competition for the work that is available, so it’s a great time to start a new job.
  • A chance to stand out.  It is easy to imagine that in a few years many, many people will have a big gap on their resume that represents 2020, and it can be tempting to just fall in line with the majority.  But what about people that started a new job in 2020?  Those are definitely going to be the people that stand out.  Even if the job isn’t something long-term or the perfect fit with your prior experience, just the fact that you will be able to share how you spent 2020 differently than most people will definitely set you apart from the crowd.
  • New opportunities.  Essential businesses need workers now, so many positions that previously required experience are being opened up to entry-level employees.  If you’ve always wanted to reinvent your career, now could be the perfect chance. (And if you aren’t quite sure how your skills can be applied to something new, give us a call, we can help!)
  • Benefits.  Wages aren’t the only thing a weekly paycheck includes.  When you are working full-time your benefits may include paid time off, access to health benefits, and contributions to your retirement.  If you are able to retain any of these benefits while collecting unemployment the cost will certainly be higher.  In addition, any benefits that accrue and increase over time will be impacted while you are unemployed.  Other benefits, like healthcare and 401k contributions, are costly to maintain outside of full-time employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous turmoil and uncertainty for everyone.  The economic impact of the current conditions will be long-lasting and some businesses will never recover.  The labor market will likely be very different than it has been for the past few years, with more opportunities in some areas and less in others.  Decisions made now about work could affect the trajectory of your career for years to come, so the best advice is always to consider all of your options and try to look beyond the present and put yourself if the best possible position for the post-COVID world of work.

Allied is hiring!  We work with many essential businesses that need workers to support the fight against COVID.  Check out our current openings and apply today!