Coffee & Contemplation: Unemployment

With everything going on in the United States right now, many people are learning about unemployment. They’re learning about it because most of them never needed it before. Some benefits have been added due to the pandemic, but there are still some things people don’t about unemployment in general. For example, it is a service one must pay into in order to receive the benefits. That means self-employed folks who don’t put money away for unemployment will not receive unemployment benefits. That’s under normal circumstances. Supposedly, things have been put in place to help self-employed folks who’ve lost work due to Covid-19.

When one applies for unemployment, the service looks at how much you paid into that service during the previous year. I applied for unemployment this year. They reviewed what I paid in 2019 to determine how much I’ll receive. A small percentage of money is taken from every paycheck. The more money one makes, the more money is put away. The employer also matches the amount from each paycheck. Someone making minimum wage will receive less than someone making an annual salary in unemployment benefits. The most I can get is $800 per month. That does not include the $600 extra that everyone is supposed to receive due to Covid-19.

Now, I understand that they give a certain amount each week so one’s unemployment can last up to six months or even a year. That makes sense. But it feels unfair that, under normal circumstances, I would get less than minimum wage to cover all my expenses for a month. I only have rent and utilities to pay if you include a phone bill in utilities. $800 is not enough to cover those couple of things as well as food for the month. And here’s my other question. What happened to all the money I paid into unemployment for the last 12 years? Isn’t that still my money? Why can’t I use that during unemployment? These are only a few things I sit and think about while I enjoy my morning coffee.

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