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Week 100 and beyond

You’ve made it through being laid off from your job, you’ve made it through 99 weeks of unemployment – now what?
I was faced with this question a while back – it’s hard to answer. I don’t think there is one answer to that question for everyone but let’s take a look at what the next steps are for a Week 99er and what happens next in the system.

Before I even start looking at Week 100 I want to cover something. There is this misconception that people on unemployment are lazy, or aren’t looking for work. I honestly was offended by this, and wish people would do a bit of research before they make statements like that.

There are two major issues with that blanket statement. The first is, if a person is unemployment it means they have earned it. Let me put that another way – it means they lost a good job and paid into the system, so the benefits they are currently getting they paid into for all the time they were at that job.

The second issue I have with that statement is a person is on federal extensions of their unemployment – or made it into the program that had extensions (after 6 months) they have to do more to continue to get their benefits. No longer are they able to just submit a form or call in every other week. In the last extension period you are required to apply to three jobs a week – yes THREE a week – in order to keep getting the benefits they are using to live with.

So people on unemployment benefits worked, and continue to seek work – so they are not lazy. They look for jobs more than a highschool or college student looking for quick cash – why? Because we have bills, because we have grown use to eating meals that are more than packets of dried flavor and noodles.

So once we’ve made it through all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, if you were lucky enough to get 99 weeks – where do you go from there? Like I said before – there isn’t a good answer.

My advice? Keep going. There are a lot worse places to be than where you are, and there are assistance programs through your state and county.

The economy still sucks – there is no nice way to put that. There are jobs out there, or at least postings for jobs but I’ve found they usually aren’t hiring. Those last 22 weeks applying for 3 jobs a week- that’s 66 jobs I never even heard back from. 66 job’s that have postings on the Michigan Works site and other places that don’t even respond.

You might wonder why if they have a posting they aren’t replying to people applying. It’s simple- there is a huge amount of people who need jobs. People are applying to any and all job they might in some way be qualified for – for one job opening there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants – they simply can’t reply to everyone who responds.

It stinks – it does.

Now if you are still luck enough to be employed, you might be saying right now “But I read the unemployment rate is dropping – that means people are getting jobs right?”

Wrong! If you are like me, and have made it through 99 weeks of unemployment you fall off the chart. They no longer count you in the “unemployment numbers” since you are no long reporting. There are plenty of people who just give up searching for a job. What’s the point since places aren’t hiring?

So if you are a Week 99er, and you’re facing week 100 soon – what do you do? Keep on keeping on. It sounds silly, it does, but there is light at the end of the tunnels.

Some tips I’ve found useful:

  • Find ways to stretch the dollars, there are a lot of ways to do that. We’re sure finding that out aren’t we?
  • Keep looking – as the economy starts to pick up, jobs will open up and you will find that one for you.
  • Find a way to do freelance work – This is my personal favorite. It has kept me sane and helped me pay bills. (Remember on this one you have to claim all the funds you make, if it’s over $600 you will be charged Self-Employment tax which in Michigan is 12% instead of regular tax of 6%) Make sure you record everything, work on contracts and receipts – keep everything legit!
  • Don’t get sucked into a work at home scam – if you are going to work at home, make sure it’s with a legitimate company, or create your own.
  • If you are in a place where you need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask for it! You have paid your taxes, and have earned those benefits, there is no shame in asking for what you’ve earned.

So now what’s next? Living your life – keep moving on. You will make it! There is light at the end of the tunnel.

When people ask me what I do for a living (which has come up a lot lately for some reason) I pause. My old answer was “I’m unemployed/self-employed” and then would go into spiel of explaining what I do for freelance work. Now I simply say “I’m self employed”. I don’t have the security of having a steady income, or unemployment benefits there to catch me if I don’t get work. It forces me to push harder in my businesses and bring in some funds.

Week 100 is scary, but it’s not the end. Keep your chin up and keep going!

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