How Unemployment Affects You (Even If You're Working)

The impact of unemployment has far-reaching consequences. Even those who don't suffer layoffs in an office may find that their jobs (as well as their personal lives) have been negatively impacted. And for those who have lost their jobs, hopes for a timely retirement may be dramatically altered.

Employees Work Harder but Earn Less Research by the Economic Policy Institute shows that Americans are producing more goods than in previous years, but are being paid less for their work. When coworkers are laid off, those that remain must pick up the slack, meaning longer hours, harder work and less pay. Although corporations may show some profits during these times, it often comes from employee cuts or reduced wages for those who remain.

Fear of job loss may leave employees feeling like they are at the mercy of their employers. For some companies, the hardest working employees may be the only ones around when the dust settles. While this may be a way to weed out the less productive workers, many of these productive workers may be facing burnout, as well.

It can be difficult to find motivation when there are no incentives (bonuses and raises). However, the fear of not having income may force employees to step up to the plate and work harder than ever before.

Impact on Retirement Savings Personal savings accounts can be one of the first things impacted by loss of a job. That's why it is important for those who are fortunate enough to have a job in good times to take advantage of the automatic enrollment of their retirement plan. According to a 2021 report from The Employee Benefit Research Institute, that even though 18% of workers experienced hours or pay reduced while 10% were furloughed during the 2020 pandemic, 80% of retirees surveyed said they "confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement."

What To Do if Laid Off When you find yourself laid off, it's time to network. There are plenty of online networking sites that can help you get back on your feet. Just remember – any connection can lead to employment.

One of the major issues people are facing when they get laid off is what to do about health insurance. Remember that there are plans like COBRA that can continue passed your employment.

Who Does Not Get Hurt During Hard Times Not everyone gets hurt by a recession or downturn in the economy. Trends in employment statistics show that women may pass men in terms of numbers in the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2020, women held 47% of jobs. Although there are more women entering the work force, they are still working fewer hours than men, and make only 85 cents for each dollar that men earn, according to the government report.

In times of recession, not all companies cut jobs – and some even thrive. Historically, dentists have done well in hard times, particularly during the 2008 Recession, however, due to the 2020 pandemic, general dentists lost almost 18% drop in net income compared to the previous year.

A survey by San Diego's AMN healthcare in 2009 showed that during a recession, many nurses went back to work to fill the financial void from a family member's lost wages. In the survey, 58% of those who responded said they were working more hours compared to the previous year. However, compared to 2020, more nurses reported mental health distress due to the COVID pandemic with 63% reporting they were emotionally drained and 56% were burned out. Twenty-three percent stated they were considering leaving the field due to frustration and stress.

Filing for Unemployment Insurance How do you know if you qualify for unemployment insurance? The first place to start is your state's Department of Labor website, in order to answer a few qualifying questions. There is usually a waiting time before benefits take effect, and even then, the total amount you receive will not equal the amount you'd make while working. So, plan accordingly.

Conclusion When unemployment is high, people who have jobs may be more stressed and overworked than ever. Those that have lost jobs may be feeling depressed and anxious. Though recessions end, and unemployment rates will fluctuate, it takes more than high hopes to land on your feet after a stint of unemployment. Plan ahead and use the money you have wisely, and you should be back in the office in no time.

Article Sources
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  1. Economic Policy Institute. "The Productivity–Pay Gap."

  2. Employee Benefit Research Institute. "Confidence in Retirement Security Resilient in Face of Pandemic," Pages 1-2.

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Household Data Annual Averages: 11. Employed Persons by Detailed Occupation, Sex, Race, and Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity [Numbers in Thousands]."

  4. United States Census Bureau. "PINC-05. Work Experience-People 15 Years Old and Over, by Total Money Earnings, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Sex, and Disability Status," Download "Males, 15 Years and Over, All Races" Excel.

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Household Data Annual Averages: 8. Employed and Unemployed Full- and Part-Time Workers by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity [In Thousands]."

  6. United States Census Bureau. "PINC-05. Work Experience-People 15 Years Old and Over, by Total Money Earnings, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Sex, and Disability Status," Download "Females, 15 Years and Over, All Races" Excel.

  7. American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute. "How Did The COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Dentist Earnings?"

  8. Group Dentistry Now, LLC. "The Great Evolution and Consolidation of Dentistry During a Potential Recession."

  9. AMN Healthcare. "Nurses Working More in Down Economy."

  10. AMN Healthcare. "AMN Survey Shows COVID-19 Impacts to Nurses’ Mental Health and More Discrimination, Less Inclusion for Diverse Nurses."

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