Is Collecting Unemployment Lazy?

Despite an end of federally funded unemployment benefits many unemployed Americans are apparently “lazy” when it comes to returning to work. This is borne out by the over 10 million of open vacancies as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes to the background.

Are enhanced unemployment benefits making unemployed workers lazy?

For some yes. Why deal with the hassle of working, commuting and risking COVID when you could stay home and collect benefits and make money from a side hustle? But for many others this is not the case as the reality is that unless they make more than $15 p/hour, going back to work with actually cost them money.

For example someone earning $10-15 an hour and working 40 hours a week and bring home $525-ish a week or $2100 a month. Rent $1400, Car 300, insurance 125, electric 150, Gas 65, water 80, phone 100, wifi 75. How do I feed the kids? Daycare? How do I live?

In this situation can you really blame someone to keep getting enhanced UI benefits which in many states would be almost $20 p/hour. Plus no day care costs and minimal commuting costs.

Get the latest money, tax and stimulus news directly in your inbox

The Senate has been unable to decide on extending benefits, guaranteeing the money buoying roughly 30 million jobless Americans during the current pandemic induced economic crisis will at least temporarily dry up. The resulting sentiment is reflected in the title of this article and was also a theme I saw across several recent comments on a Reddit article I posted to get a pulse of how the broader community of unemployed or underemployed Americans. The response I got was quite overwhelming but it was not a shock to people that our bitterly divided congressional leaders (Republicans in this case, but all are playing politics ahead of the upcoming election) didn’t have a plan for an extension given the expiry of this benefit was known for months. Here are some highlights and reactions, including some commentary from my end! Feel free to leave a comment and get into the discussion.

I’m pissed off, it would be one thing if there wasn’t a raging pandemic and tens of millions unemployed. They are acting like it’s our fault we lost our jobs, and we need to go back to nonexistent jobs. They aren’t living in reality, and I really think they are going to send millions of us into poverty because they can’t stand the thought of some poor people making more than starvation wages. (Tlehmann22)

I think all Politicians are well aware of this issue and in fact could be a key deciding factor in the next election. The challenge is that Democrats are willing to extend the current benefit to year end, but fiscally conservative Republicans are worried about the addition to the already massive national debt and more importantly feel that this benefit will encourage people to stay home versus going back-to-work.

I can’t believe that they had all this time, knew this day was coming and don’t have a clear consensus on what to do,this is unacceptable! They [Senators] are millionaires and they really don’t care about whether ppl will be able to pay for their rent next week! Like who do they work for? What job would allow this?

It was also interesting to see this thread of discussion around saving as much of the $600 as possible, which is only feasible if you were in good financial shape beforehand and live in a lower cost city. Given 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, this may not be a a feasible option for many who lost their job relatively suddenly.

I hope that folks took advantage of the extra $600 to place it in savings & prepare for the inevitable. I understand if not every cent of the extra $600 could’ve been saved for a rainy day & finding jobs is not as easy as people may make it sound. ~68% of people collecting were getting more than they did working so at least some people should have been able to save a good amount. When I lost my job in March, it took me almost 3 months to find another in the same industry (manufacturing, shipping, receiving). That was the longest time I was unemployed since I began working 16 years ago. I’d been applying to grocery stores, Ross, Dollar Tree & even the 99-cents Store before finding this job. Everyone’s jobless situation is individual. No need to be rude or insensitive to folks who are already down. (Lana Townsend)

Depends on their situation. When I was collecting, I was receiving $900 per week. I live in San Diego btw. My expenses do not come out to $3600 per month but I’m a thrifty minimalist w/ low overhead. I also live w/ 2 other “essential” people who were still working full-time. I was a bit more fortunate than others but like I said, everyone is different.

I wasn’t expecting them to extend it in the first place. I will live on bare bones til I can get a job. I stay home, eat frugally and clip coupons, no cable tv, no car payment, canceled small things like Sirius subscription and gym memberships, buy second hand if I need to buy something. As a last resort, dip into my emergency fund that I sacrificed for, to have in times like these. (reneeb531)

Finding a job has not been easy for most people either. So even those who want to go back to work and forgo this benefit, cannot in the current Pandemic induced economic slowdown.

I’m feeling that more because I was already well into a job hunt, which was already insanely difficult because there hasn’t BEEN much to apply to and it already was super competitive, and I’m sweating imagining all of the people who are now going to be panic applying to everything. I so badly want to go back to work, the thought of somebody who applied for any other reason that has to do with the government being a pile of garbage is causing me to feel devastated. I’ve seen a few long-term, permanent positions that would definitely be stable open up and I want one sooooo badly. (Akvelina)

Ultimately there is a lot of blame to go around with the leaders elected at a federal and state level.

Can we stop playing this both sides b/s? This lies at the feet of the GOP, who once again treat the rank and file as serfs for their corporate overlords. And a giant chunk of America co-signs it because…like an addicted gambler who thinks the next bet will be the one to actually pay off for him, they’re fooled in to thinking the system will soon benefit them too. It’s maddening because we’ve seen this go in a circle for almost a 1/2 century now with almost no one willing to speak the plain truth to it. At least when you talk about the Dems, as feckless as they are, they do address SOME needs that their constituents face (not nearly enough mind you, but I digress)

And some are hopeful that congress will get it’s act together and pass a bill by end of July. Which I find highly unlikely!

It hasn’t lapsed yet, it’s still active on all claims made this week up until Sunday. The switch to end FPUC hasn’t been flipped, so as long as they extend it sometime this week it’ll still be in effect next week and other weeks to come, however long they extend it for. I don’t understand all the panic…

Also, if Congress changes rules for eligibility and state’s need to update unemployment systems again, then could take weeks given the delays in getting existing provisions implemented.

I came from a Republican background an even helped campaign for two of my Senators. I was more along the long of Libertarian, before radicals took it over. I will NEVER vote red again. I was making almost $32 an hour and the median salary on indeed within a 25 mile radius is $9.27 an hour. A part of me wonders are they purposely trying to commit political suicide.A lot of my friends feel the same way I do. Let’s hypothesize that roughly 47% of the unemployed are, “were,” Republican. They are definitely going to witness a major power shift this November. Having the nerve to tell everyone that we do not want to work and yet, 83% of that money was handed over to the top 1%. Even the majority leaders title head looking a$s got a PPP loan for his wife’s company. But I say again, we are the ones taking advantage of the system

It was quite eye opening to see how people are coping this situation which affects so many Americans. You can see the full Reddit thread here and here.

Subscribe via email or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to get the latest news and updates

2 thoughts on “Is Collecting Unemployment Lazy?”

  1. I think it’s disgusting that they knew these benefits were going to end and they did nothing! Now they are all going to their million dollar homes and the little people are going to be struggling to make ends meet! For those that want to say you should have saved the six hundred, you try that with a family and keeping up with bills. We are being punished for them telling us to stay home . The virus was a scam and again we are paying for it. You all should have done something BEFORE it ended, SHAME ON YOU. I live in NC how am I supposed to live on 132 from the state??

  2. I lost my job 5/29 and applied for unemployment the next day. It took 7 weeks for me to get my first state check, and that was after they rejected my application. I received PUA a week later, and had to do a deep dive to figure out that I had to apply for every week I’d been unemployed to get those federal benefits.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been applying for jobs that will allow me to make enough to cover my health insurance premium with 1 of my paychecks each month. I got all my back unemployment just recently, so I’m covered for about 2 months.

    Frustrated and screwed over are 2 very polite words for what I’m feeling. If Federal benefits aren’t extended in full, I’ll be doing all I can to vote incumbents out of office. I’ve paid taxes for 35 years, work in a field where insisting on legal pay causes me to lose job opportunities, and now, when I actually need unemployment, those people voted into office are assuming I’m just lazy and want to sit home and collect benefits.


Leave a Comment