The top complaint I hear from employers about unemployment extensions is having candidates turn down jobs because they claim they can make more on unemployment. It’s a concern that’s easy to get riled up about. I’d like to add some perspective, however.
Let me say first, yes, there are lazy people who don’t care to improve their circumstances or pull their weight in this world. They are happy to live off of the efforts of others. That said, there are also a lot of responsible and smart people caught up in a nightmare right now with a lot of complicated layers. I promise you, many of the people I interact with who receive unemployment benefits hate the experience. The emotions that come from cashing that check are hard to understand if you haven’t been in that situation or know someone really well who has.
Back to accepting low paying jobs. If the job in question has a true street value comparable to unemployment, I agree the job seeker should be open to taking it. Especially if the employer is open to the fact those who have made considerably more in the past will need to keep their job search going in order to land a job better able to meet the obligations of the committed expenses they likely have (mortgage, student loans, car notes, etc.). Most of the job seekers I work with have applied for a variety of low paying jobs for cash flow. Do employers call them in for an interview? Rarely.
The low paying jobs that seem to chase them are those that are questionable marketing opportunities that are commission only or positions requiring skill sets similar to theirs that pay well below the actual street value for the job. Because so many displaced workers are struggling to find jobs, some companies have knowingly attempted to exploit their desperate circumstances. In addition to low-balling wages, companies are frequently classifying the jobs as part-time. Is that because the workload isn’t sufficient for full-time or is it an attempt to dodge providing benefits? Hard to say. Unfortunately, many of the part-time opportunities my contacts have been presented with involve so many hours, with unpredictable schedules, it makes it nearly impossible for the individual to have the time or flexibility to interview for other jobs better able to provide for their families’ needs. In fact, there is a less than subtle suggestion those who would continue their job search need not apply. There is a training expense to account for, you see.
It’s a no win situation for the job seeker. They are a leech on society if they don’t agree to be exploited. If they take the job, they are committing themselves to almost certain financial ruin. These aren’t horrible or irresponsible people. They are normal hard working professionals caught in the middle of a nightmare who are trying to find a way to provide for their families. They are individuals with skills and long careers trying to make choices that won’t destroy their chances of being taken seriously down the road. They are men and women smart enough to know when someone is trying to exploit them and in a position to say “not yet, you don’t.” If unemployment benefits went away, job seekers wouldn’t have this layer of protection. They’d have to bow to whatever low rates employers felt compelled to offer because they’d be stuck without other options.
Again, I’m not saying all who are on unemployment are trying hard to get off of it and I’m not saying all employers offering lower wages are out of line. I’m simply attempting to offer more balance to the debate. Be upset with those who are gaming the system. Just know it’s not just about job seekers. Direct your disapproval equally to the employers suggesting their job requiring an Associates Degree or higher in Accounting commands an $8-$10/hr pay rate. Shake your finger at the company who lays off their $50K Operations Manager and hires a new grad for $24K. Wrinkle your nose at the school districts pink slipping certified teachers and hiring them back as teacher’s aides for $10/hr because they can. Candidates who have had to knowingly take positions clearly below the fair market value will tell you it’s a tough pill to swallow with a lot of important factors to consider.
Anyone who says they’d take the job and just suck it up is probably making that claim without the consequence of ever having to make that decision themselves. I don’t see many of the critics being willing to practice what they are preaching.