DAVE ROSS

Ross: The double-edged sword of pandemic unemployment benefits

May 19, 2021, 7:01 AM | Updated: 10:48 am
Unemployment...
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Yesterday, I invited anyone who was getting extra unemployment benefits – and deliberately not taking available jobs – to explain why.

I got five responses, all very well-written, but only one came from someone actually taking the money and holding out for something better.

Here are a few excerpts from what Michael wrote:

“In my case, my old job isn’t waiting. I’m waiting for a job,” he said. “I was laid off in 2019 because of Trump’s tariff wars with China impacting U.S. manufacturers like my employer.”

Michael feels the tariffs did nothing to punish China — they just punished people like him.

He goes on:

“I was hopeful going into the Spring of 2020 — until COVID-19 froze hiring plans,” he continued. “Since then I have had only a few interviews per month, and no offers.”

He says he applied for unemployment immediately, and is grateful for the checks he’s been getting. And because of that income, he focused on applying for jobs like the one he lost in design management – jobs that would pay over $100,000 a year – instead of taking the $15-an-hour jobs that kept popping up. That’s the upside, he says: He could afford to hold out.

But he also admitted there’s a downside.

“Without those benefits, perhaps I would have spent less effort applying for jobs and preparing for interviews each week, and more reflection on what else of value I could do with my time and talents,” he noted.

He seems to be saying that the benefits left him free to chase his old life, which would seem to be a good thing, but that it might have been better for him to reassess his career and try something different.

I thought that was a remarkable insight – that in some cases, trying to protect people from adversity ends up limiting them. And that’s coming from someone who supports the program.

So does this mean the government should stop trying to help people?

No, but it reminds us that there’s another option: If you think a government program is more likely to suffocate you than help you – you are free not to sign up, and you might even end up better off.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

Mudhoney...
MyNorthwest Staff

Mudhoney bassist and nurse: ‘COVID has touched everything,’ even music

Guy Maddison, the bassist for Mudhoney, is also a supervising nurse at Harborview. He shares the impact COVID has had on his life.
2 days ago
Steve Bannon...
Dave Ross

Ross: The person who really needs to testify about Jan. 6 riot isn’t Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon may be the one summoned to testify in Congress about Jan. 6, but there's someone else who has more to answer for.
3 days ago
Freedom, vaccine mandate...
Dave Ross

Ross: Freedom requires level of unselfishness many in our country don’t have

Total freedom requires a level of unselfishness that doesn't come naturally for a lot of people, as we've seen firsthand with the state vaccine mandate.
4 days ago
car tabs, Orting...
Dave Ross

Ross: Did you vote for I-976 car tab cuts in 2019? Wish granted

While a vaccine mandate cost the ferry system 7% of its staff, let’s remember this is happening in a state that was ready to impose bigger cuts two years ago.
5 days ago
Vaccine...
Dave Ross

Ross: May we live long and prosper with our vaccine choices

Talk show host Dennis Praeger decided to put it all on the line to prove he’s right about vaccines.
6 days ago
Flu vaccine...
MyNorthwest Staff

A new ‘universal’ flu-COVID shot on the horizon, says local MD

Mercer Island’s Dr. Gordon Cohen discusses how future iterations of the COVID mRNA vaccine could also treat seasonal flu.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Ross: The double-edged sword of pandemic unemployment benefits