It is not that simple

There has been some controversy surrounding a comment that Tom Corbett, who is running for PA governor, made recently. He said that some people would rather collect unemployment compensation than return to work.

Do I doubt this is true for some people? No. There are dishonest people. There are lazy people. There are freeloaders. There are all kinds of people in all kinds of places. What a great world this would be if everyone always did the right thing, from politicians, to business owners, and to everyone in between. But not everyone does, unfortunately. In fact, most of us have, at one time or another, done a few things that we could justify or that were not "so bad."

But back to Corbett's comments. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that receiving UC is not a way of life, only a temporary solution. Most people receive about 50 to 60 percent of what they made while employed. I think there is a cap on this percentage (say, if you make 100k, you won't get 50k or 60k, but not sure). When you consider all the people who live at or above their means, which, sadly, makes up a large part of society, how can anyone think those people can be living high on the hog or can or want to go on like this indefinitely?

Before I was laid off, I put (what I considered) a nice amount into savings every month. Naturally, I have not been able to do that, which is really setting back our future plans. I have also not contributed anything to a 401k since last February, which is pretty scary. I do remember at one time last year, the money I left in my 401k did earn something like 8k, just because the market was going up. If only my checking account could perform that same feat...

I read a comment from someone on FB who said that people should be willing to take what they can, even if that means flipping burgers, downsizing, etc. While I agree that people should be not be holding out for a perfect job or a job that is necessarily near what they made before, it is not so simple. As I stated on FB, I saw a proofreader's job on Craig's List for 8 bucks an hour, downtown. That is less than what I make on UC, but it was more than that that kept me from applying. How can I also justify the cost of parking and childcare? It is tough to find quality child care for less than 6 or 7 bucks an hour (some places want to charge you 10 bucks or more). What about the parent who was laid off who has to pay for child care for two kids?

Believe me when I say there is not much out there that I am qualified for; between education cuts and companies willing to forgo content people ("anyone can write"), it is slim pickings. And considering I am capable of doing several different things, I am sure others are worse off than me. Think about the middle-aged person who was at the same company for 20 or 30 years and knows only one thing? Most companies don't want to hire someone in their 40s or 50s, particularly when they can hire someone fresh out of college who will not only be much more technologically advanced but will also most likely be willing to make much less.

If I could be a permanent sub/sub all 180 days, I would, even though I would make less than half of what I made at my previous job. I could get an evening job a few days a week if necessary, when Brian would be home and childcare would not be an issue. The economy has to come around eventually, right, so I should not have to do this for years on end. I am open to quite a few different jobs, actually, and for less money than I made. (For the record, I really thought I was getting off UC this summer; I was practically promised a freelance writing gig, which kept me from pursuing other things. It could still happen, but I really hope a "regular" job comes first.)

I feel as if I have come full circle. When I was first laid off and my 20-year reunion was just around the corner, I was embarrassed to be out of work. I hated not having a title to put in my bio, so I included what I had done anyway; since college, working was all I had ever know. (I have no doubt most unemployed people, particularly men, as sexist as that sounds, don't relish the idea of not having a job. Think of all the men who hate being paid less than women.). After awhile, I kind of embraced the whole stay-at-home mom thing, although I did sub whenever I could. But as of late, I am right back to where I was before. As much as I love being with my kid (when we are not fighting), I want to have a job. I want a different/additional (not necessarily greater) purpose. I don't want to keep taking this money.

And besides, this whole keeping the house clean thing is just not working for me. And particularly not for Brian. :-)


Facie said…
If any of you dear readers can give me the name of someone at some company, I would appreciate it. I have sent some resumes/cover letters out to random places, but from what I have read, if you know someone, that really ups your chances.
Facie said…
The thing I had hoped to get across with this post was that you cannot assume that everyone (or even most people) are abusing UC or trying to milk the system (ultimately the taxpayers). I used to be anti-welfare, and in many ways I still am, but having been on UC, I have more sympathy for those people. You just don't know unless you are living that life.

But if there is someone who has no intention of ever going back to work yet continues to collect UC, or someone who has told an employer that he would like to start his job AFTER his UC runs out, I feel great disdain for those people.

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