Thursday, February 12, 2009

Goodbye To Unemployment Insurance - And Thanks!

The above-the-fold story (don't you love those quaint and soon-to-be obsolete newspaper terms) in today's Washington Post discusses the growing problems that newly-unemployed people are having in trying to get unemployment benefits.

I can see both sides of this. It's certainly shameful of any employer to try and intentionally block any person who has earned the right to unemployment benefits. But I have also seen this issue as a manager myself, and seen one of my former employees making claims that she had no right to be making. All that does is slow down the line for people who are trying to get money they need to get by!

I have been one of the lucky ones. I was laid off ahead of the rush, AND I have received my unemployment benefits through the DC government. Say what you want about the District, but when it comes to doling out the unemployment bennies, they have their act together! I have reliably received a check every week that I was eligible. I've never had to pick up the phone or even venture down to the unemployment office. Everything has been done online, and it's been quite convenient.

My current set of benefits is about to run out, and I believe I'm going to be eligible for a federal extension, but I doubt I will be able to draw on them very much. I have been fortunate in recent months to be working just enough so that I am not eligible on a week-to-week basis to receive any money. This is as it should be.

Unemployment insurance has been a wonderful safety net. It does not provide enough money to get by, but it does provide a level of comfort at a time when the world is so uncertain for people whose lives have been turned upside down. I never had an opinion one way or another about this form of government aid, but I'm a believer now... And I suspect millions of other Americans will also become believers - IF the states and the employers can get their acts together!

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