Why Work When There’s Unemployment?
In March of 2021, the CARES Act extended unemployment benefit provisions through September 6. Its purpose was to provide critical funds to help unemployed Americans pay their bills and care for their families. In many cases this was, and still is, absolutely necessary.
Fast forward to June, 2021. Things have changed considerably since that plan was enacted.
- Vaccines have rolled out and more and more people are being vaccinated.
- COVID-19 is under control in the U.S., and in Michigan.
- Employers can call non-essential workers back to work.
- Masks are no longer mandated everywhere for those who have had the vaccine.
- Things are actually starting to return to normal.
While there are still more unemployed individuals than there are jobs available to fill, many employers are struggling to find workers. Why? The federal incentive has left would-be workers asking themselves, “Why go back to work when there’s unemployment?”
The smart thing to do?
On the surface, it may seem that continuing to receive unemployment is the smart thing to do. After all, not only can you collect regular benefits without working for them, but with the additional federal supplement of up to $600-per-week, it can result in receiving a higher income while on unemployment than one earns going to work every day. You might enjoy being around the kids more, or take it all in as an extended summer vacation. But as with many things, there is a dark side to this way of thinking.
6 Reasons to go back to work before your unemployment runs out
Despite the rewards of remaining on unemployment assistance, there are some strong reasons to go back to work instead of tapping out your unemployment to the bitter end. You can probably relate to several of these 6 reasons to go back to work:
- Seniority status at work.
You’ll have a job, benefits, seniority and be in a better position when future co-workers that didn’t come back to work before unemployment ran out are suddenly all applying for jobs at the same time. They won’t all get the job, and those that do will be lower on the totem pole.
- Camaraderie with co-workers.
Talking with co-worker friends can make your day better. There is usually something you can relate to and they are on a similar intelligence and life experience level as you are. A WebMD study shows that this type of friendship makes us healthier too: we sleep better, our risk of heart disease is lower, stress-induced blood pressure is lower, and we recover sooner from illness. Compare this with what you do and say all day when you are unemployed. Watch a lot of TV? Spouse and/or kids get on your nerves? Get a little bored doing the same thing all the time? Co-worker friends can add familiarity and insight to your day, and make for a happier, healthier you.
- Integrity and self-esteem.
Similar to the benefits of camaraderie with co-workers, going to work increases your integrity and self-esteem. This is well documented in Gallup surveys. Those who work full time have a lower depression rate (5.6%) than those who are unemployed (12.4%). But even worse, that depression rate jumps to 18% for those who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more. Going back to work can give your self-esteem and integrity a big boost!
- Effects on the children in your life.
Whether you have your own kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, families of church members, or neighbors, children are watching and modeling what you do. For better or worse, how you act affects how they understand their world. In situations where parents are unemployed, studies show that their kids on average have lower test scores, more school suspensions, and an increased likelihood of repeating a grade. Later in life, these same children have lower high school graduation rates, college attendance, and adult earnings. Eventually, they have more adult reliance on public aid. While there are some benefits to unemployed parents if they use that extra time to bond with their kids, overall, being unemployed can negatively impact kids’ lives.
In today’s current work environment there are incentives everywhere to encourage you to apply for jobs. From financial bonuses after working for a certain number of days to sign-on bonuses, a week of free groceries, or gift cards, employers are fighting to gain potential employees. Come September when unemployment extensions end and labor pools expand, these incentives will likely be nonexistent. Take advantage of incentives now!
- Legal requirements.
When the CARES Act was first implemented in March, Michigan waived the work search requirement for individuals covered by extended unemployment benefits. As of May 20, 2021, that has changed. If you receive unemployment benefits at this time, you are required to actively search for work. You must also report at least one work search activity for each week benefits are claimed. And if you turn down “suitable work,” you could lose your unemployment benefits now and be disqualified from receiving future benefits. So there are those legal requirements to return to work as well.
- Seniority status at work.
Whether it helps your future work status, improves mental health for you or your family, offers great incentives, or is part of a legal requirement, there seem to be many more reasons to return to work than to continue your unemployment. That is the smart thing to do!