Working Under the Table

I am seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence of people playing the system when it comes to receiving unemployment benefits. We have been seeking to hire a part time worker. The person who we were pursuing turned us down because they do not want to jeopardize their unemployment benefits, and they already have a part time gig where they’re paid in cash. I know of another person looking for a full time sales job, while getting by on unemployment and bar tending. I think one of the reasons unemployment statistics seem so peculiar these days, during this broad based recovery period, is the reluctance of many unemployed workers to give up unemployment benefits, which can last two years and sometimes longer if they are in school.

Another reason for the funky numbers is that older men have apparently dropped out of the active labor force in droves. I know of several 50-somethings who have abandoned the job world and then retired or opted to start off-the-books cash enterprises. Others have taken early social security or part-time jobs.

The excruciating costs of benefits is restraining small business from hiring full time people. The availability of long term, almost endless unemployment benefits is a benevolent social safety net, but it is making the hiring game more confusing than ever.

Question: Should the length of unemployment benefits be cut?

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18 thoughts on “Working Under the Table

  1. matt

    Hell yea it should be cut!!!!! It is a joke!!! Why would anybody want to come off unemployment to make “only” 4-5 dollars an hour more than they would sitting at home?? 26 weeks and done!!!!! Pretty much universal response when I ask somebody why they want a job….My unemployment benefits are running out!!!!
    Thats all I have to say about that!!

  2. Tony

    I have seen pretty much the same thing, 3 people we have interviewed this year have decided not to go back to work because the cost of gas, childcare, etc.. eat up the difference in unemployment benefits and wages.


  3. Robert

    I manage a shop and have interviewed many applicants some good and some not but I do see the other side of the story. After 33 years in the business I love the old joke that some day you can name your price HA!! the shops in my area want 25 years experience and to do the work of 3 machinist for $15 per hr what a joke so go cry to someone else about why you can’t find any experienced machinist.

  4. jim harrington

    The last time congress was deciding wheather to extend unemployment benefits, the line at our front door was twenty people deep. As soon as benefits were extended, no more applicants. We are back at 2008 employment levels, but our unemployment rate went from 2.30% in 2007% to 9.85% currently. This is costing my company an additional $75,000 this year. P.S 2009 was the first year we ever laid off anyone after 30 years in business.

    Does anyone else live in a state which has a stupid “under-employment” bnenfit like Michigan?

  5. Jake Worden

    There shouldn’t be any unemployment benefits, period. I just finished reading the Constitution (again), and couldn’t find any where, where it says “The unemployed people shall be entitled to sit on their ass and collect free money from the employers and taxpayers.”

    If you want unemployment benefits, put some money in savings when your employed, so when you become unemployed you have a nest egg. So you can “get by” until you’re employed again. This, of course, is called responsibility (or self-reliance). And sadly for our great nation, these days responsibility is a rare commodity.

    Now of course, someone will respond to this saying “You have no compassion” – of course I have compassion. I just don’t want you reaching into my wallet and using my money – telling me HOW to be compassionate.

  6. Lou Bertoletti

    The blue collar world seems to have 3 sides to it:

    1. Currently employed – hanging on: Due to the new “reality”, companies have to get by with less. In our downsized condition most everyone has to multi-task, from office personnel packing and delivering parts, to machinists spinning chips. Overtime is used in place of new hires, because the economy is so unpredictable. These employees feel overworked and stressed.

    2. Currently employed – don’t give a damm. Even tho unemployment is high, there are still a lot of people who don’t care about their jobs. We have fired 2 machinists in the past 6 months for excessive absenteeism.

    3. Currently unemployed – don’t want a job. Would you take an unemployment check, work for cash, and still have lots of free time, at or near your current worth in the market?


    As the other posts relate, many people don’t want to work – they are content with what they have.

  7. G

    Not only should it be cut, but it should be gradually reduced over the short life of the benefits, because at some point every job will pay you more than unemployment and the argument that “I’m making more on unemployment” will become moot.

  8. Paul Kuyt

    I agree with “G”, If peoples unemployment started at say even 100% for the first week or two and then decreased incrementally say 5% every week or two, there would be a reason for them to start looking IN EARNEST right away. This would prevent people sitting back until the last few weeks of their unemployment before they even start looking.

  9. Steve

    I agree with Robert you can’t expect a machinist with 20 some years experience and a family to feed to just drop down to apprentice pay. In my opinion they are changing careers using the system and going to school to get out of manufacturing and into a career that made the same amout per year before the layoffs. And you know what that means NO MORE skilled talent. I feel for the machinist that were laid off I was there for 9 months. Shops are not looking for Experiance and Talent they are looking at how cheap they can get somebody in the door. I’m currently a employed machinist but if something happens BYE BYE manufacturing Im going to find a career where I can still feed my family and live the same life style

  10. Jerry Johnson

    How about getting rid of unemployment benefits immediately, in their entirety !!

    That would be a motivation for people to find a job, or go hungry.

    Of course, my suggestion runs counter to the Obama administration’s desires, which is to have as many people as possible greatly dependent on the Government for every aspect of their lives.

    It’s all about power and control.

  11. Robert

    I would like to add to the comments that I had made earlier that is unemployment has become a crutch but in the machining trade we have been under appreciated and under paid for a long time when you consider what you have to know to be a skilled machinist for example Trig, CadCam, Metalurgy, tolerances,GD&T, and the list goes on and on you are an ACE if you make 1K excellent parts but make just one bad one and oh the sh** hits the fan. I love machining and would not trade this career for any other but when I am ask by a young person if they should consider it as a career I reply NO WAY.

  12. Toolmaker

    It takes many years of trade school and on the job experiance to be a good machinist, most shops nowadays are under the impression that anybody off the steet could do it. Shops look for the people who are in dire need of work and who will take the $12.00 an hour pay and wonder why they don’t stay long. They don’t stay because it’s just to hold them off until they get something better with a pay that they went to school for. The high paid experianced machinist is the backbone of manufacturing. Without them we better place our orders with CHINA….

  13. Joe Crawford

    There are a lot of good points with everyone’s discussions here. There also should be some consideration to the job market for the past 18 months not just todays.
    I agree some people abuse the system, there have been people like that for years. I also agree that the benefits should start to reduce after a set time to enforce the system of returning to dependancy. Unfortunately I do not agree with getting rid of unemployment benefits completely.
    What happens to all the money that has been taken out of our pay checks for years to cover us if we become unemployed? Yes this money has already been used on others but why should all the people that have worked for 20-30 paying in benefits not have the security of some money if their job goes belly up.
    Some of you have indicated that you are looking for employees now, but did you let employee goes during this rough time? How long has it been since you hired anyone (2008,2009,2010)? Let’s consider everything before we get hysterical and out of control.
    Remember just because it is sunny today does not mean it still can not rain.

  14. Pete Goebel

    Joe Crawford just repeated a myth that seems to persist, even in the media. That myth is that money is taken out of an employee’s check and put into the unemployment fund.
    This is simply not true. The employer only pays into the unemployment fund, not the employee.
    Also, when unemployment is drawn against your company, you pay every cent of it. Not immediately, but your rate is raised until everything that has been drawn has been repaid.
    At least that’s how it works in my state.
    I agree that we need a safety net, but the current system is out of control, as described in previous posts.

  15. Steve Horn

    What hasn’t been said is the cost to business of the government holding the wage rate high when it should be falling. How the gov’t does this is through the extension of unemployment benefits. If we really believe in a free market than there should be no unemployment beneifts. If our wage rates dropped due to excessive labor in the market place, then we could be more competitive on a global basis. The more we grow the more we can pay in wages.

  16. Jim

    Pete please consider this… If you are an intelligent business owner and realize that your company pays into unemployment funds to the state, wouldn’t the smart boss anticipate this and pay their employees less to compensate for unemployment benefits?
    I think Joe has a point that it is ‘ coming out of our pay’, just like my 100% covered health insurance comes out of my pay. Before we hire anyone we know it is $XXXX.XX amount a month for each worker and or family members for health insurance costs…. Some employees have a spouse that gets health insurance and they do not want what our company offers. Their salary is adjusted for what they would have been ‘earning’ by having our health insurance coverage. Just because it is not taken directly out of our paycheck, if the company owes to cover unemployment benefits to the government that is potential funds not going to a worker’s salary.

  17. David

    Keep the unemployment benefits as is. Our company starts an employee at $ 9/hour.+ benefits. My childcare expense is $7/Hour/child. I have worked 15 years without a single day absent.

    The security that extended unemployment brings helps people in these troubled times.


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