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There are several reasons you should return to work instead of collecting unemployment, including you may no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are offered your job back, expanded unemployment benefits won’t last forever, and more.

Unemployment may be higher than the Great Depression. Forbes reports the number is 23%, just shy of the Depression era, but “Current unemployment is probably greatly understated.” The forecasts also expect things to get worse, particularly in the fall and winter, when it’s likely the COVID-19 virus will resurge. But the problem for those out of work is that the full roster of people looking for work will likely drive down salaries, as companies seek to regain control of their bottom line. This may tempt some workers to remain on unemployment over seeking a job with a lower salary than what they were making. Here are some reasons why this is a bad idea all the way around.

Stay Home or Go Back?

Thousands of workers will have to decide if they should go back or stay in quarantine and continue to collect unemployment. For some, going back to work means possible exposure to the virus. Others may be making more money from their unemployment benefits than they made on the job. When you consider these two issues, it seems like a no-brainer that staying home is the best approach. But is it this clear cut? Consider these five issues:

  • If you’re offered a job and turn it down, you may not be eligible for unemployment anymore. Most states require that you look for work as part of your unemployment contract and accept a job if you are offered one. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and none of them say it’s okay to turn down a job offer because you’re worried about the virus or want to earn more by staying unemployed.
  • The unemployment expansion, with the extra $600 per payment, is only good for up to four months. It’s a nice safety net, but it will eventually run out. Too, several states report they are running low on cash to pay unemployed workers, which makes this “benefit” not very secure.
  • Having any job is better than having no job. With unemployment predicted to worsen over the next few months, if you are offered a job now, it’s wise to grab it while you can—and before someone else does.
  • Furloughed workers may still have access to their healthcare benefits. If the company offers the job back to you and you turn it down, it is unlikely those benefits will continue. While COBRA is an option, it is not cheap, and your employer will not be paying any part of the premium to make it more affordable.
  • Finally, working gives you a better outlook; pride, a sense of accomplishment, and social interactions with coworkers can help you better handle some of the stresses all around us. Even when your job is stressful, it can help you mentally focus on something external to what’s inside your head.

All of these are good reasons to consider going back to work now. If you’re looking for a job, contact the IES team. We work with top employers and can get you back on your feet.

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