Congress is racing against the clock to renew extended unemployment benefits.
Democrats in the House and Senate would like to renew the current program, allowing the unemployed in the hardest hit states like California and Illinois, to collect unemployment insurance for a maximum of 99 weeks.
If the GOP’s plan goes through, these states will see that maximum cut by 40 weeks, leaving millions of people in an even tougher financial crisis. If Congress doesn’t move fast, about 6 million people will lose benefits.
How unemployment extended benefits work
Extended benefits work in tiers and depends on the unemployment rate in the state.
Tier one is your initial claim of 20 weeks. The next tier, available to states with an unemployment rate of 6% and above, is 14 weeks. Tiers 3 and 4 are reserved for states with an unemployment rates above 8.5%, and can be up to 19 weeks long. If the GOP succeeds, the last 2 tiers would be eliminated, and the second tier would lose a week.
With the average length of unemployment being at 41 weeks long and employers being discouraged from hiring those who have been without a job for a long period of time, this is a frightening thought.
So with industries like real estate and manufacturing being stagnant, and hospitality and retail hiring more part time than full time workers, the future can look grim for some.
Instead of waiting for the worst to come, here are some things you should consider doing if you are unemployed:
Go back to school.
What better time to continue your education than now when you have the time and could use the degree Go for your AA, BA, or MBA. If you’re finished with your degrees, look into another industry.
Don’t forget to check into different scholarships and grants to avoid additional college debt.
Start a business.
I’m sure you’re thinking “but it’s a down economy”, but contrary to popular belief, it’s a great time to start a business. An online business will be a lot more affordable to start. You can open an online store, start a blog, provide freelance and consulting services.
You can also choose a home based business, depending on the product or service you’re offering.
Develop marketable skills.
There are many fields that simply will not recover from the recession.
If you were in that type of field, then you should consider picking up additional marketable skills. This includes learning a foreign language, learning popular software programs, and even obtaining a certification.
Sure, it will take money in many cases to pick up a new skill, but it’s worth the investment. You can also learn a lot for free using the Internet, from video tutorials, podcasts, and niche websites.
Spruce up your resume.
If you’ve been unemployed for a while, chances are you’ve been sending out that same resume you updated the day you lost your job.
It’s time to go back and go over it again.
Are you missing information? Is the format hard to read? Is it goal oriented or description based?
Have someone else look over your resume and give you some feedback. It’s also great to have different resumes for different positions.
Move where there’s a lower cost of living.
I live in Orange County, California, where the cost of living is absolutely ridiculous. However, there are job opportunities in other parts of the country where I may not be able to get by on the salary here, but I can definitely be in a comfortable position elsewhere.
If the cost of living is too high where you live, consider moving to a cheaper place.
I’m aware that moving can be expensive, especially if you own a home, but it could be worth while in your job search.
Volunteer or intern.
Although money is a huge aspect in being unemployed, work experience is still high up there.
Finding a job could be rough, but getting work experience is fairly easy. There are numerous organizations searching for volunteers and interns. In some cases, these positions can lead to a paid job, or a valuable connection you otherwise would have never met.
Find an organization you’re passionate about and see if they have volunteer or intern positions open. Some internships don’t even require you to leave your home. I’ve done several virtual internships which proved to be just as valuable as ones I physically went to.
Network day and night.
Use this time to network like you’ve never done before.
Schedule meetings and lunches, attend cocktail hours and conferences. Reach out to people in your immediate network, extended network, and even reach out to people using cold calling or cold e-mailing. Be prepared with business cards, have copies of your resume, and perfect your elevator pitch.
Your next opportunity can be right around the corner. It’s said it’s not what you know, but who you know. If you meet the right person, your fortune can change for the better.
Get temp work.
Temp agencies are definitely experiencing a larger client volume, and the work is temporary, but that’s money you weren’t getting. Some temporary positions lead to permanent positions with good performance.
Regardless, it’s another position to add to your resume to cover up the extended period of unemployment.