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by Vault Careers | October 10, 2011


President Barack Obama feels for those who are unemployed and wants to make sure they continue to have money as they look for jobs.  A promise to continue the extended unemployment checks for up to 99-weeks is included in the president’s American Jobs Act, along with a host of other initiatives aimed at getting the country back to work.  While there is great debate over the initiative as a whole, there is a large discussion over whether or not the unemployed should continue to get checks beyond the originally intended limit of 6 months.  A recent New York Times article even focused on unemployed people who find fault in continuing emergency extension, believing it is actually holding the economy back.  Others believe the unemployed are taking advantage of the “free handouts.” 

Has unemployment created a culture where Americans expect a handout in a crisis and are more likely to decrease their search efforts to take what they might feel to be a “Well deserved vacation?” Or are they necessary considering the circumstances.  Should those who truly need unemployment and are actively looking for work be forced to fend for themselves during an economic crisis they more than likely did not create? 

Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, a career services expert at, feels that there are two types of unemployed people. “A lot of people who have made a good amount of money in the past and saved a bit may be very happy to take an ‘unemployed vacation’ by getting a check,” she said. “There are those that might also say, ‘I’m finally getting back a little of what I paid into for all these years.’”

“Of course, those with money pressures will look right away and certainly not consider unemployment to be a respite,” she adds.

Kristy, a New York-based talent agent who was unemployed two years ago until she started her own company, believes that unemployment is a necessity during these tough economic times, adding that extensions are warranted. She feels unemployment won’t stop people from looking for full-time jobs, but believes it might be an impediment to search for part-time or freelance work.

“The regulations for unemployment In New York state that you will not get any money for a day where you work, even if you only made $20,” she said. “If a person is looking to gain experience and wants to take an internship or part-time position to build their resume, they lose unemployment benefits and could end up making less than unemployment provides. I find that to be ridiculous.”

While Kristy was unhappy accepting money from the government, she realized that the benefits were necessary and believes extensions are a must until the economy corrects itself. David, who found a job after a lengthy stay on unemployment, called the extensions a safety net while he was searching for work.

A former chief of staff for a politician, David had trouble finding similar work in the political field. “Translating my skills to the private sector was proving hard since I was a jack of all trades, and many employers didn’t see me as having enough specialized experience,” he said.

Doris experienced a similar transition. Having been unemployed in the past, after 9/11 rocked the economic landscape, Doris found herself in a similar position as the fiscal crisis began. “After 9/11, the job market was very tight, especially in New York,” she said, pointing out that she was unemployed or underemployed for over two years. “I collected unemployment and took on several consulting jobs until I was able to get permanent work again. When I became unemployed again, I immediately started to look for work.”

Doris faced a different job market, and was just learning about the benefits of LinkedIn and Twitter. The learning curve alone took time.  She feels extensions keep people afloat while they muddle through all that there is to a job search.

“I was very aggressive,” she said. “But I knew some people who just didn’t want to collect unemployment and took any job. I’m not really sure that is the way to go either.”

Connie says the key is to execute a successful job search. She doesn’t feel everyone spends enough time doing so and believes the immediate failure causes many job seekers to give up and just collect unemployment until their economic situation becomes dire.

“If you are not successful, you get frustrated and bitter, and will feel that the extensions were the only way to go,” she said. “A lot of time needs to be invested: Networking, which people think is all about asking for a job; following up, which most people hate; and erasing that feeling of entitlement many Gen Y workers feel – that’s the only way to be successful in a job search.”

But what do you think?  Tell us your story.  Are the extensions necessary or are they holding the economy back?  You decide. 

--Posted by Jon Minners,

Further Reading:

Some Unemployed Find Fault in Extension of Jobless Benefits:


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