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Of all the evils that can befall an energetic and industrious wage earner, none resembles the cruelty and injustice that the unemployment subjects its victim. It is also much harder, bitter and painful for anyone who is responsible for his or her family for their upkeep. The notion of any talented person who truly wants work can always find it does not always play by the rules. I came to realize that by my first experience.
When I was in college, unemployment was exceedingly common occurrence in our neighborhood and the entire city in general. The stories of how the state unemployment compensation was not enough were numerous. At that time, I couldn’t imagine ever losing my job or even worse waiting for any government intervention in pursuit of a job. Out of college I worked for ten years till last year when we were suddenly sent home due to financial mismanagement in our company. I lost my job of which, I was earning eighty five thousand (85,000) last year, and entered the whole world of unemployment. This slipped me into this curse of unemployment and unemployment compensations. I can’t even remember how I got my previous job, but with its salary, I was paying all my bills comfortably and remaining with something to spend for the month ahead. During those glorious days, I ensured that every time I had to leave something small for the savings. For the few months, everything went on smoothly until I had finished my reserve. Having not got any form of employment although I tried in every way to search for one.
I applied for unemployment benefits the same month and qualified. At the end of the month, I went to correct my benefits of which were to become handy. To my surprise and shock, the maximum I was to be paid per week was three hundred and seventy five (375.00) only. By my simple calculations, this translated to just above one thousand five hundred (1,500) per month and slightly below twenty thousand (20K) per year. And to make it worse, that was before tax deductions. How could someone live on three hundred and seventy five a week and still be expected to live and search for a job? Was this even enough to cater for transport or was I dreaming? Well, I was not dreaming or wrong in my calculations, so I took the money and headed home to redo my entire budget so that it can fit my unemployment “benefit”.
The same amount wasn’t even enough to cater for my rent on top of other things. The amount was so small that, how I would survive on it, or how I would be making my record of job search activities hit me by the face and kept me wondering of the reasons why it was set at such low limits. The taxes on it, in addition, ensure that the unemployment benefit is reduced even further. That is why some people opt not to depend on it and just search for jobs at their own leisure time without being rushed everywhere and making job search logs every day for just a small amount of money (unemployment benefits) that cannot even sustain them. By July 1985, thousands (10,403) Wisconsin residents were eligible for the unemployment compensation but were not drawing it (Hansen and Thall 447).
The first thing I came to be aware of is that, any unemployment benefit was supposed to help those whose jobs have been terminated with some source of funds for a given period of time or even up to the point where they get a new job (International Labour Organization 48). This unemployment benefit should be enough to focus everyone who is benefiting with some sense of security and comfort of knowing that they can comfortably leave home to go for a job hunt without worrying about the bills. If it was supposed to help me in the transition from my earlier job to an equivalent one, then the amount ought to have been considerably larger to cater for my basics, in which it failed miserably.
When I was at office with the disbursement officer, I heard him explain to me that one reason as to why they are so low, to my amazement, was to motivate me to be more vigilant in searching for job. These unemployment benefits are also supposed to allow some time to the unemployed for them to search for a new job equivalent to the one previously lost without any financial stress. Without the unemployment payments or compensation, the worker may be forced to take jobs in which he is overqualified or even end up on welfare (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, OECD 113). If they were to make me look for the job in a better way than I was doing currently, then the solution lies on giving me something considerably close to my earlier salary but for a shorter duration of time and not an insignificant amount for a prolonged duration. According to the government, the unemployment payments are supposed to maintain the consumer spending constant even when they are in periods of job transition and particularly the financial adjustments (Baumol and Blinder 151). Well, how was I supposed to live on what is not even enough for my upkeep? All I need is to go find some sources and boost the same to ensure that at least I spend half of what I used to spend earlier.
In conclusion although the knowledge that people are worried about unemployment, and there is a need for some relief when they are shifting from one job to another, the amount paid in terms of unemployment benefits is so small that it cannot maintain their standards of living and the ones they are accustomed to. It is therefore of importance that, intensive interviews between the job seeker and the issuing body to be conducted so an amount that is helpful to the unemployed is issued.
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