Running out of unemployment benefits

Marketplace Staff May 7, 2010

Running out of unemployment benefits

Marketplace Staff May 7, 2010


Tess Vigeland: With all the wild stock market gyrations this week, it was nice to end with some calm from the jobs front. Employers added 290,000 positions to their payrolls in April. But 15 million people are still out of work. And many of them are counting on unemployment checks to get by. How long you’re allowed to collect those benefits depends on the unemployment rate in your state. The longest is 99 weeks. And unless Congress keeps extending that, people across the country will start to fall off the rolls.

Shawnette Daniel is one of those people. She’s close to maxing out her benefits in Utah — about 250 bucks a week.

Shawnette Daniel: We’re getting close to falling behind on our mortgage payment. We’ve already cut back about as far as we can on any extraneous expenses. We even have backyard chickens and a larger garden this year. Basically, I guess, we’ll see what it means when it runs out.

Vigeland: Where were you working before you lost your job?

Daniel: I was working at Whole Foods.

Vigeland: And how does the unemployment check compare to what you were making there?

Daniel: It’s just over half of what I was making per month, so that is quite a difference.

Vigeland: What are your prospects for getting a job in the near future?

Daniel: I have applied for waitress jobs and go through the interview, and they were very polite and let me know that they wish me luck, but I’m overqualified, and they’re worried if they hire me that I’m going to leave the minute the economy turns around, or I find a better job. And I can’t argue really with them, because it’s true.

Vigeland: So you’re finding it hard to get a job, because you’re overqualified.

Daniel: Right, and then the jobs that I normally would hold aren’t available.

Vigeland: What’s your response to those who say unemployment benefits are a disincentive to look for work?

Daniel: I would say that they’re actually a double incentive to look for work, because every week that I am not making near what I’m used to making, I’m bringing in the income that supports our family, drives me even harder to look for any way to fulfill my part of supporting our family until the economy does turn around.

Vigeland: Well Shawnette, best of luck to you and will you let us know how things are going, keep us up to date?

Daniel: I most certainly will. Thank you so much.

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