May 20 2009|10.30 AM UTC

Jonathan Rivers

The Pros and Cons of Unemployment in a Recession

Category: Personal FinanceTags: , ,

The current recession has been called the worst since the Great Depression. As a nation, the U.S. had a national unemployment rate of 8.9% by April 2009. This figure constitutes 13.7 Million of workers (labor force of 154.7M), and is up from 8.5% just a month earlier. Of course, this is a sign that things have yet hit an all time low.

Because this issue has affected so many people, the implications of unemployment have  constituted a regular discussion, in media and on the individual level. And while it’s better to remain employed in most cases, there are often marked benefits from not working. Let’s take a look at some of the most important pros and cons of being unemployed in this economy:


Unemployment Benefits


If’ you’ve paid enough into it, unemployment benefits can be quite satisfactory. It’s usually enough to live on, and you don’t have to do anything to receive it. To make matters better, due to the recent Economic Stimulus, the first $2,400 in benefits is tax free. In this sense, individuals collecting unemployment can fare better than members of the workforce, and they get to wear sweat pants while doing it.

Long-Term Planning


Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of unemployment is free time. This is a great opportunity to reflect on previous work history, and to plan the next steps in one’s career. For those curious about or interested in working in different fields, this is a great  time to  explore other opportunities. This free time is also be useful when it comes to long-term financial planning, thinking about relocation,  and other family matters that most people are too busy to dedicated time to.



For those that have always wanted to go back to school and pursue a different career, one of the best times to do this is during a period of unemployment. One of the main reasons why people don’t go back, is because of the need to earn money, as opposed to taking out student loans. Furthering one’s education with Uncle Sam paying for room and board is quite the arrangement.

Save on Associated Costs of Employment


For professionals, there are many expenses tied to working that often go underestimated or even ignored. These include: professional attire, transportation, and dining out. While these costs vary depending on the industry and the employer, these costs come out of the worker’s pocket and constitute expenses all would prefer to avoid.

Health and Fitness


Most working adults do not take the time (or have the time) to live healthy lives. For many, it is easy to dine out because of a hectic schedule, and exercising can be the last thing any one wants to do at the end of a long work day. A common story for the recently unemployed is that they finally find the time to prepare their own healthy meals, and start exercising regularly. The former is also a useful way to save money.




Even though unemployment benefits can be enough to sustain oneself when not working, they typically do not leave overage for savings. For those that remain employed, they are able to continue saving and putting money away in their retirement funds. And with employers that match contributions to a retirement fund, this can be that much more important. Additionally, for those trying to pay off debt, earning more than unemployment certainly can help. 

Employee Benefits


Remaining employed is also important because of employee benefits. While savings and retirement are important, medical and dental insurance can be even more so. This is especially the case for those with families, for which buying insurance can be extremely expensive. Those that have ever needed medical attention without insurance would attest to this.



While the recession has caused many individuals to take a pay cut, or even a reduction of their employee benefits, there is no denying the importance of financial stability. While there are many Americans now on unemployment benefits, there are many that could not afford to live on this. For these individuals,  it would be beneficial to stay with a company that reduced pay or benefits, if they were still earning above what they’d be collecting from unemployment. Every little bit counts.



Many liken the implications of a recession to Social Darwinism, in that only the employees with the most utility will remain with jobs. Furthermore, those that survive lay offs will be well poised for security and career advancement when the economy turns around. Especially, when their company begins hiring people and growing once again. This can supplant one’s role in a company, should cuts be made in the future.

Consistent Work History/Resume


Another important benefit from remaining employed is remaining employed. For workers that anticipate career moves in the future, showing a prospective employer that they were able to remain in work during a recession says a lot. It also prevents the need to explain gaps in employment history on a resume, and illustrates experience and expertise.

Share this article:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Tipd

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy Quintin May 23, 2009 at 8:21 am

Since most people get jobs through networking, a steady employment history is not that important.Being unemployed brings perspective,you have time to research the news and sift through the lies of the corporate press.

Being unemployed brings self-reliance, you learn to fix things with your own hands. You learn that working for a large corporation brings no security or loyality, you understand the farce that the economy has become.

A job is a waste of time, time that you never get back, better to make your own way in the world and at least understand what you are doing and why, instead of reading another BS memo from corporate lying about what is going on in the company.

Unemployment brings freedom if you prepare for it, and you are a fool if you don’t. Unemployment will arrive on many more doorsteps before the depression is over a decade from now.


amolpatil2k May 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

A lot of blogs have forgotten about the power of imagery. Good show. Keep them coming.


peerm09 June 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm

This seems to be rather idealistic, don’t you think? Sure, unemployment may suffice for short term errands every month, but there’s always something unexpected. Something needs to be repaired, doctor, children, natural disaster, etc. There’s a reason why people receive help and still can’t support themselves. There’s many people that cannot work because of medical conditions that cost money, which is probably not calculated in this. So while “the man” might be lying to the general public, imagine what sort of freedom you truly have without the financial freedom first. Unemployment is designed to maintain, not help progress. What I mean is, you might be able to afford groceries and the basic bills, but if you need a new something for the car or what have you, you’re screwed.


Marton June 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm

It is unfortunate that government doesn’t support education for people who are unemployed. In a time of my unemployment I have registered for school, and soon as the unemployment agency found out they imminently suspended my benefit. I have talked to many people and they did a something to others. It is sad that people willing to better them self’s and they get shoot done by our system. Our government wants people to sit at home instead of better them self’s and being independent.


Arlene August 7, 2009 at 8:13 am

Does unemployment benefits (short or long-term) affect your tax refund? Would you receive less from the government (ie. 2010 income tax return)?


Paul Fernhout December 20, 2009 at 4:28 am

Lots more ideas on dealing with unemployment from a jobless recovery here:

Basically, trends in increasing automation and better design, coupled with trends that limit demand like environmentalism, voluntary simplicity, and the previous accumulation of stuff, are permanently changing the nature of economics and employment as we know it. We need to move more towards a “basic income”, a gift economy, strong local subsistence economies, and better global resource planning to bring abundance to everyone whether they have a job or not.


Ron Garvey February 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm

My question is: I was laid-off from Monaco Coach RV here in Northern Indiana on Sept 3, 2008 & Ive been laid-off now for 17 months now without any job interviews yet. Being unemployed all of 2009, & I dont get to claim my 8yr old daughter this year on my taxes, how do I go about paying my Federal, State, & Local taxes? I had the 10% Federal tax taken out & drawn just over $20,000 last year which it was just under $2,000 withheld, but they dont give you the choice of State & Local being withheld. Im freaking out cause even if I have my tax papers filled out & ready to send in im broke just from trying to make ends meet that I didnt have anything left to put back towards taxes. So seriously, what do I do…..I need some advice? Id appreciate any ideas? Sincerely, Ron Garvey


ramandeep kaur March 20, 2012 at 10:13 am

unemployement is good as well asbad becouse one who has no job he can get free time to do what he actually wants to in his life but if he has no job he can do anything without money so hneed a secure job that can fulfil hi desires ,his aspiration and so on.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: